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Session 7 - Planetary & Other Nebulae.
Display session, Monday, June 09
South Main Hall,
We present WFPC2 Planetary Camera images of the supermassive star Eta Carinae taken through four continuum filters and one emission-line filter. The dithered and deconvolved images provide \sim 50 mas (\sim 110 AU) spatial resolution for examining the small-scale structure of the high-velocity debris. We have combined the flux-calibrated continuum images to produce ``true color'' representations of the scattered light. The dusty lobes of the homunculus appear yellow/red, and there are substantial azimuthal color gradients which we conclude are probably caused by extinction/obscuration very close to the central blue supergiant star. On the other hand, some positions in the equatorial debris scatter predominantly blue light, suggesting these regions lie along more direct, low-extinction lines to the central star. A halo of near-UV light emanating from between the dusty lobes and seen only in our U-band image coincides with a region of radio recombination emission. This diffuse light appears to represent ionizing continuum escaping from the central region, though its origin (photospheric or circumstellar) is not clear. We compare our HST images to recent radio continuum maps to form a coherent picture of the distribution of circumsteller material. We also present recent HST UV/optical spectra of the central star which show a multitude of stellar wind features. Additional collaborators on this project include B. Balick, F. Hamman, R. Humphreys, S. Johansson, J. Parker, N. Walborn, G. Weigelt, and A. Frank. This research is supported by NASA/HST grants GO-6501-95A and GO-6041-94A.
Program listing for Monday