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Eta Carinae and the Homunculus Nebula in 3D

Presentation #345.05 in the session Public Outreach Resources and Programs — iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Eta Carinae and the Homunculus Nebula in 3D

We present a multi-wavelength 3D visualization of the Homunculus Nebula and other gas and dust surrounding the massive star Eta Carinae. During the 1840s, Eta Car brightened to become the second brightest star in the night sky for a brief period. The star did survive this “Great Eruption” and became known as a “supernova impostor”.

Using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers and artists have created a combined 3D model. Our visualization sequence showcases a 360-degree tour of the multiple layers of material ejected and energized by the eruptions of Eta Car. In addition, the video utilizes Spitzer Space Telescope imagery to establish context within the Carina Nebula, and to illustrate Eta Car’s broader effects. Through an engaging and cinematic presentation, learners connect the Great Eruption to the resulting nebulosity seen two centuries later and visually comprehend the nested multi-wavelength views.

Extending this visual work, we have transformed our models into the areas of sound and touch. Data sonification of the 3D imagery promotes the overall enjoyment, learning, and emotional response of participants. Interactions with a 3D printed model of the Homunculus Nebula component make the structure easily understood through tactile manipulation. Implementing universal design principles, these sonification and 3D printing products are crucial to providing accessibility for those who are blind or low vision. Our combined product set engages learners’ visual, aural, and tactile senses to present a multi-wavelength and multi-sensory experience of one of the most massive stars known.

This presentation is based on work performed as part of the NASA’s Universe of Learning (NASA’s UoL) project and is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A. NASA’s UoL creates and delivers science-driven, audience-driven resources and experiences designed to engage and immerse learners of all ages and backgrounds in exploring the universe for themselves. The competitively-selected project represents a unique partnership between the Space Telescope Science Institute, Caltech/IPAC, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and is part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program.

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