Waiting in the wings: Reflected X-ray emission from the Homunculus nebula

M. F. Corcoran, K. Hamaguchi, T. Gull, K. Davidson, R. Petre, D. J. Hillier, N. Smith, A. Damineli, J. A. Morse, N. R. Walborn, E. Verner, N. Collins, S. White, J. M. Pittard, K. Weis, D. Bomans, Y. Butt

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26 Scopus citations


We report the first detection of X-ray emission associated with the Homunculus nebula that surrounds the supermassive star η Car. The emission is characterized by a temperature in excess of 100 MK and is consistent with scattering of the time-delayed X-ray flux associated with the star. The nebular emission is bright in the northwestern lobe and near the central regions of the Homunculus, and fainter in the southeastern lobe. We also report the detection of an unusually broad Fe K fluorescent line, which may indicate fluorescent scattering off the wind of a companion star or some other high-velocity outflow. The X-ray Homunculus is the nearest member of the small class of Galactic X-ray reflection nebulae, and the only one in which both the emitting and reflecting sources are distinguishable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-386
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Sep 20 2004


  • Circumstellar matter
  • ISM: individual (Homunculus nebula)
  • Reflection nebulae
  • Stars: individual (η Carinae)
  • X-rays: stars


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