Journal Article

Revisiting 2D numerical models for the 19th century outbursts of η Carinae

R. F. González, A. M. Villa, G. C. Gómez, E. M. de Gouveia Dal Pino, A. C. Raga, J. Cantó, P. F. Velázquez and E. de la Fuente

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 402, issue 2, pages 1141-1148
Published in print February 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Revisiting 2D numerical models for the 19th century outbursts of η Carinae

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We present here new results of two-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of the eruptive events of the 1840s (the great) and the 1890s (the minor) eruptions suffered by the massive star η Carinae (Car). The two bipolar nebulae commonly known as the Homunculus and the little Homunculus (LH) were formed from the interaction of these eruptive events with the underlying stellar wind. We assume here an interacting, non-spherical multiple-phase wind scenario to explain the shape and the kinematics of both Homunculi, but adopt a more realistic parametrization of the phases of the wind. During the 1890s eruptive event, the outflow speed decreased for a short period of time. This fact suggests that the LH is formed when the eruption ends, from the impact of the post-outburst η Car wind (that follows the 1890s event) with the eruptive flow (rather than by the collision of the eruptive flow with the pre-outburst wind, as claimed in previous models; González et al.). Our simulations reproduce quite well the shape and the observed expansion speed of the large Homunculus. The LH (which is embedded within the large Homunculus) becomes Rayleigh–Taylor unstable and develop filamentary structures that resemble the spatial features observed in the polar caps. In addition, we find that the interior cavity between the two Homunculi is partially filled by material that is expelled during the decades following the great eruption. This result may be connected with the observed double-shell structure in the polar lobes of the η Car nebula. Finally, as in previous work, we find the formation of tenuous, equatorial, high-speed features that seem to be related to the observed equatorial skirt of η Car.

Keywords: hydrodynamics; shock waves; stars: individual (η Carinae); stars: winds, outflows

Journal Article.  5776 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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