News of the WeekAstronomy

An Oversized Star Acts Up

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1748
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1748a

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CHICAGO-- Theorists are puzzling over the strange antics of Eta Carinae. One of the biggest stars known to astronomers, it is so bright that if it gets any brighter it should blow itself apart. But observations announced at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society here last week show that over the last 2 years, it has indeed brightened--by a factor of more than two--while remaining intact. And whereas such a star would be expected to expand and cool when it brightens, Eta Carinae has heated up.