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eJAAVSO

Signs of h Carinae Outburst in Artifacts of Ancient Bolivia

 

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Sallie Teames

Fort Worth Astronomical Society, P.O. Box 344, Hurst, TX 76053

 

Presented at the 91st Spring Meeting of the AAVSO, July 2, 2002

 

Abstract  Recent HST and X-ray photos of h Carinae reveal the bipolar gaseous lobes-the Homunculus Nebula-created by the star’s “Great Eruption of 1843.” From debris gases on the outskirts beyond the two gaseous lobes, astrophysicists surmise an earlier outburst. The 1999 Chandra X-ray photo of the horseshoe-shaped outer nebula surrounding the bipolar lobes indicates an earlier outburst occurring over a thousand years ago.

Because h Carinae is so far south, it is entirely possible that the outburst would not have been seen by the Chinese and other observers in the northern hemisphere. Researchers are looking for possible recordings by early southern hemisphere observers.

Pre-Incan artifacts excavated in Bolivia may provide an answer. In the script and artwork carvings on a monolith stone statue, an artifact of the Tiahuanacan culture, are signs possibly depicting the earlier outburst of h Carinae-the recordings of a star that suddenly brightened in their night sky. Two small stones from the same era and also found on the south shore of Lake Titicaca may also show depictions related to this brightening.

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