3D time-dependent hydrodynamical and radiative transfer modeling of Eta Carinae's innermost fossil colliding wind structures
Eta Carinae is the most massive active binary within 10,000 light-years. While famous for the largest non-terminal stellar explosion ever recorded, observations reveal a supermassive (∼120 M⊙) binary consisting of an LBV and either a WR or extreme O star in a very eccentric orbit (e=0.9) with a 5.54-year period. Dramatic changes across multiple wavelengths are routinely observed as the stars move about in their highly elliptical orbits, especially around periastron when the hot (∼40 kK) companion star delves deep into the denser and much cooler (∼15 kK) extended wind photosphere of the LBV primary. Many of these changes are due to a dynamic wind-wind collision region (WWCR) that forms between the stars, plus expanding radiation-illuminated fossil WWCRs formed one, two, and three 5.54-year orbital cycles ago. These fossil WWCRs have been spatially and spectrally resolved by the Hubble Space Telescope/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (HST/STIS) at multiple epochs, resulting in data cubes that spatially map Eta Carinae's innermost WWCRs and follow temporal changes in several forbidden emission lines (e.g. [Fe uc(iii)] 4659 Å, [Fe uc(ii)] 4815 Å) across the 5.54-year cycle. We present initial results of 3D time-dependent hydrodynamical and radiative-transfer simulations of the Eta Carinae binary and its WWCRs with the goal of producing synthetic data cubes of forbidden emission lines for comparison to the available HST/STIS observations. Comparison of the theoretical models to the observations reveals important details about the binary's orbital motion, photoionization properties, and recent (5-15year) mass loss history. Such an analysis also provides a baseline for following future changes in Eta Carinae, essential for understanding the late-stage evolution of a nearby supernova progenitor. Our modeling methods can also be adapted to a number of other colliding wind binary systems (e.g. WR 140) that are scheduled to be studied with future observatories (e.g. the James Webb Space Telescope).