AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 58 Eta Carinae
Poster, Tuesday, January 6, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Hanover Hall

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[58.03] Brightness Variations in the Central Star of Eta Carinae From 1998 to the Present

J.C. Martin, M. D. Koppelman (University of Minnesota), Eta Car HST Treasury Team

Recently, Eta Carinae has varied surprisingly in brightness combining a long term brightening trend with a 5.5-year cycle and unpredictable sporadic jumps. Only the Hubble Space Telescope has been able to provide reliable photometry of the central star resolved separately from its bright ejecta. We present data from the Hubble Space Telescope Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys High Resolution Camera (ACS/HRC) which chronicle the dramatic brightening of the central star of Eta Carinae from the 1998 “event” through 2000 and show that it has continued to slowly brighten. More frequent photometry during its recent “event” (2003.5) shows an increase in luminosity immediately preceding a distinguishable “event” and a continued rise afterward. These data are compared to the more long term data compiled by the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) which also shows substantial brightening between events and other intervening fluctuations in the brightness of Eta Carinae at visual wavelengths.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.