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Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae is one of the rare Luminous Blue Variables, LBV. The star often changes its size and luminosity. Its surface temperature is up to 30 000 kelvin. Probably the star began its life at the upper mass limit of 150 solar masses, of which it has lost at least 30 since.
The giant is therefore one of the most massive and brightest stars known and is surrounded by a huge, red nebula. This it has outcast in numerous eruptions during the last centuries. The star has reached the end of its life, an enormus supernova explosion is expected any time. Admittedly new estimations assume 10 000 - 20 000 years until Eta Carinae's end.

Possibly the star has a companion, a Wolf-Rayet star with about 30 solar masses, which orbits it every 5.5 years. Through the nebula it would be impossible to see even with the best telescopes.

Constellation: Carina
Age: circa 3 million years
Distance: 8000 light-years
Spectral class: B0 - B1
Visual magnitude: 6.21
Luminosity: circa 4 million * Sun
Mass: 100 - 120 * Sun
Diameter: 400 * Sun

Back: List of big and giant stars part 2
    Eta Carinae
Photo: Nathan Smith / Jon Morse / NASA

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