AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 111. Eta Carinae
Display, Saturday, January 15, 2000, 9:20am-4:00pm, Grand Hall

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[111.02] Variability in the Nebula Surrounding Eta Carinae

N. Smith (Univ. of Minnesota), J.A. Morse (Univ. of Colorado), K. Davidson, R.M. Humphreys, R.D. Gehrz (Univ. of Minnesota)

The peculiar massive star \eta Carinae is currently undergoing a major outburst. This is the brightest the star has been since the end of its famous eruption in the last century, when it ejected at least 2 solar masses of material. We report recent HST and ground-based observations obtained during the last 5 years at near-UV to near-IR wavelengths, which document the spatial variation in the brightness distribution of radiation from \eta Carinae and its surrounding nebulosity. The star has brightened considerably more than its surrounding reflection nebula at optical and near-UV wavelengths, and the brightening in the circumstellar gas and dust is a complex function of position within the nebula. Morphological changes in near-IR scattered light and line emission are discussed. We explore various phenomena which may be responsible for or related to the current outburst.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: nathans@astro.spa.umn.edu

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