The binarity of η Carinae and its similarity to related astrophysical objects

Noam Soker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


I examine some aspects of the interaction between the massive star η Carinae and its companion, in particular during the eclipse-like event, known as the spectroscopic event or the shell event. The spectroscopic event is thought to occur when near periastron passages the stellar companion induces much higher mass-loss rate from the primary star and/or enters into a much denser environment around the primary star. I find that enhanced mass-loss rate during periastron passages, if it occurs, might explain the high eccentricity of the system. However, there is not yet a good model to explain the presumed enhanced mass-loss rate during periastron passages. In the region where the winds from the two stars collide, a dense slow flow is formed, such that large dust grains may be formed. Unlike the case during the 19th century Great Eruption, the companion does not accrete mass during most of its orbital motion. However, near periastron passages short accretion episodes may occur, which may lead to pulsed ejection of two jets by the companion. The companion may ionize a nonnegligible region in its surrounding, resembling the situation in symbiotic systems. I discuss the relation of some of these processes to other astrophysical objects, by incorporating η Car into a large class of astrophysical bipolar nebulae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1064-1071
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries: close
  • Circumstellar matter
  • Stars: individual (η Carinae)
  • Stars: mass loss
  • Stars: winds, outflows

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