San Jose State University’s Thomas Madura, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, helped to develop wind collision models to understand activity in Eta Carinae, a massive, bright stellar binary system. Madura worked with an international research team led by Gerd Weigelt from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany. The team studied Eta Carinae for the first time using near-infrared interferometric imaging techniques.
In the central region of the binary, the powerful stellar winds from both stars collide at speeds up to 10 million km per hour. The team obtained unique images of the wind collision regions between the two stars. These discoveries improve our understanding of this enigmatic stellar monster. The observations were carried out with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).