We present thermal infrared images of the bipolar nebula surrounding η Carinae at six wavelengths from 4.8 to 24.5 μm. These were obtained with the MIRAC3 camera system at the Magellan Observatory. Our images reveal new intricate structure in the bright core of the nebula, allowing us to reevaluate interpretations of morphology seen in images with lower resolution. Complex structures in the core might not arise from a pair of overlapping rings or a cool (110 K) and very massive dust torus, as has been suggested recently. Instead, it seems more likely that the arcs and compact knots comprise a warm (200-350 K) disrupted torus at the intersection of the larger polar lobes. Some of the arcs appear to break out of the inner core region and may be associated with equatorial features seen in optical images. The torus could have been disrupted by a posteruption stellar wind or by ejecta from the Great Eruption itself if the torus existed before that event. Kinematic data are required to rule out either possibility.
- Circumstellar matter
- ISM: individual (Homunculus Nebula)
- Stars: individual (η Carinae)