Stars come to Earth with 3D Printing

The brightest and largest star system within 10,000 light years from us, Eta Carinae has been brought to Earth. Made of two massive stars surrounded by luminous gas, this complex system has been difficult to study. Now, thanks to 3D printing, it is that little bit easier.

Typically astronomers rely on pictures, aka 2D information when studying these far flung cosmic objects. This is why a group of researches have created a 3D model of Eta Carinae. Creating a printable 3D model of this giant star system will hopefully allow them to study the physical characteristics and delve deeper in the the mysterious past of these two giant stars.  After creating computer simulations of the two stars and how they interact with each other and the gas surrounding them, they found the images difficult to decipher.

A 3D-printed model of the Homunculus Nebula is compared to a Hubble Space Telescope image of the object. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Ed Campion

A 3D-printed model of the Homunculus Nebula is compared to a Hubble Space Telescope image of the object.
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Ed Campion

To better understand the stars, the scientists took their computer model and made it into one which they could 3D print. The group of researchers who have been studying the massive star system for several years, already use a variety of tools in their pursuit. Using a variety of telescopes to probe into the gas cloud surrounding the stars, we know now that there are shells of gas which keep any explosions from racing out into space. Taking this one step further, the data collected was used in creating the 3D model. Once this had been 3D printed and compared with the on screen model, it became evident that there is a strong cosmic wind racing from the primary star. It also revealed previously unknown protrusions where the two stars meet along with other smaller discoveries. Without 3D printing, this would all still be unknown to us.

You can watch a video showing the digital model and how it compares to the physical, 3D printed version.

In the future, this model will become available for anyone to download and print at home.

Read more on Space.com

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