[Daily article] March 12: Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae is a stellar system of at least two stars with a combined
luminosity over five million times that of the Sun, around 7500 light-
years distant in the constellation Carina. First recorded as a 4th-
magnitude star, it brightened considerably beginning in 1837 in an event
known as the Great Eruption, becoming the second-brightest star in the
sky between 11 and 14 March 1843 before fading well below naked eye
visibility. It has been getting brighter again since about 1940, peaking
above magnitude 4.5 in 2014. Eta Carinae is always above the horizon
south of latitude 30°S, and never visible north of about latitude
30°N. The two main stars of the system orbit each other with a period
of 5.54 years. The primary is a peculiar star similar to a luminous blue
variable, initially 150–250 times as massive as the Sun but now at
least 30 solar masses lighter, and is expected to eventually explode as
a supernova. The secondary star is hot and also highly luminous, around
30–80 times as massive as the Sun. The system is heavily obscured by
the Homunculus Nebula, material ejected from the primary during the
Great Eruption.

Read more:

Today’s selected anniversaries:


Vitiges, king of the Ostrogoths, ended his siege of Rome,
leaving the city in the hands of the victorious Roman general,


Andrew Watson made his debut with the Scotland national
football team and became the world’s first black international


The future capital of Australia was officially named Canberra
during a ceremony officiated by Gertrude, Lady Denman, the wife of
Governor-General Lord Denman.


Cold War: U.S. President Harry S. Truman proclaimed the Truman
Doctrine to help stem the spread of Communism.


British diplomat Hastings Ismay was appointed as the first
Secretary General of NATO.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

apple of Sodom:
1. (medieval mythology) A gigantic tree supposed to have grown on the site
of the destroyed cities Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 18–19 in the
Bible), the apples of which would turn to ash and smoke once picked.
2. (botany) The names of various plants, often bearing bitter or poisonous
fruit. […]

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  One must let the play happen to one; one must let the mind loose
to respond as it will, to receive impressions, to sense rather than
know, to gather rather than immediately understand.  
–Edward Albee

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