We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Eta Carinae?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Eta Carinae is a remarkable hypergiant binary star located 7,500 to 8,000 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Carina, the keel. It is one of the most luminous stars known: either the fourth or the third, after LBV 1806-20 (according to some models), Cyg OB2-12, and HD 93129A. The Pistol Star, once thought to be the most luminous star in the Galaxy, is actually only the thirteenth. Like many of the other most massive stars, Eta Carinae is a luminous blue variable (LBV).

Eta Carinae consists of two closely orbiting companion stars, Eta Carinae A and Eta Carinae B. The first contains 80 solar masses, the second 30. They maintain an eccentric orbit around each other, coming as close as 5 AU and separating as far as 30 AU. When the primary star formed, it may have contained as much as 200 solar masses, but the more massive a star is, the more energy it produces in its core, ejecting substantial portions of its outer envelope in the form of solar wind. Because many fusion reactions have speeds that accelerate exponentially as the temperature and density are increased linearly, the fusion reactions in the core of a hypergiant star are quick. Eta Carinae is only about 2.6 million years old, and may only last another 10,000 - 20,000 years before it explodes catastrophically as a hypernova.

In 1843, Eta Carinae increased in brightness tremendously, becoming the second brightest star in the sky after Sirius, even though Eta Carinae is about a thousand times further away. During this time it was the brightest star in the galaxy. This was called a "supernova imposter event," because it looked like a supernova, but the star survived. This event is often called the Great Eruption. After the Great Eruption, the star faded to become invisible to the naked eye, but in 1999 its brightness doubled unexpectedly, so now it is visible again.

Eta Carinae is surrounded by a large cloud of gas expelled during the Great Eruption. Because of its vague resemblance to the shape of a man, it is called the Homunculus Nebula.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.