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K. Weis, W.J. Duschl (Institut fuer Theoretische Astrophysik, Universitaet Heidelberg, Germany), D.J. Bomans (Astronomisches Institut, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, Germany)
The Luminous Blue Variable star \eta Car is one of the most massive stars known. It underwent a giant eruption in AD 1843 in which the Homunculus nebula was created. ROSAT and ASCA data indicate the existence of a hard and a soft X-ray component which appear to be spatially distinct: a softer diffuse shell of the Homunculus nebula and a harder point like source centered on \eta Car. Astonishingly the morphology of the X-ray emission is very different from the optical appearance of the nebula. We present a comparative analysis of optical morphology, the kinematics, and the diffuse soft X-ray structure of the Homunculus. Our kinematic analysis of the nebula shows extremely high expansion velocities. We find a strong correlation between the X-ray emission and the knots in the nebula with largest velocities, i.e. the X-ray morphology of the Homunculus is determined by the interaction between material streaming away from \eta Car and the ambient medium.