Dr. Megan Reiter's work on the star η Carinae is featured in a story in the November issue of Physics Today. For a brief time in the mid 19th century, the normally dim star η Carinae was the second brightest star in the sky. Usually when a star brightens that much, it's due ta a cataclysmic event like a supenova. η Carinae however lived on to once again become a relativly dim star. What happened has long been a puzzle. According to the article, Dr. Reiter and colleges Megan Kiminki, Nathan Smith of the University of Arizona, may have added to the puzzle. Their work indicates that the outbursts from this star may actually repeat on a roughly 300 year cycle. The results rule out one of the most popular hypotheses: that η Carinae was once a binary and the outburst was caused by one of the stars merging with the other.
View the story in Physics Today (access is required) http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/69/11/10.1063/PT.3.3354
View the original publication at http://mnras.oxfordjournals.org/content/463/1/845