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

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[58.06] The UV Scattering Halo of the Central Source Associated with Eta Carinae

D. J. Hillier (University of Pittsburgh), K. Davidson (University of Minnesota), T. R. Gull (NASA's GSFC), R. M. Humphreys (University of Minnesota), R. Iping, G. Sonneborn (NASA's GSFC), Eta Car HST Treasury Team

Eta Carinae is one of the most massive and luminous stars within our galaxy. It consists of a compact central source which suffers circumstellar and interstellar extinction, local dense knots which emit strong narrow nebular-like emission lines, and an outer dusty nebula called the Homunculus. The optical spectrum of the central star, first observed directly and without obvious nebular contamination by the HST, can be modeled successfully using a hot star with a radius (at the wind sonic point) of 60\,R\odot. The central star is losing mass, via a dense stellar wind, at the prodigious rate of 10-3\,M\odot/yr. Its effective temperature is low (< 10,000\,K), and is determined entirely by the wind properties. Until now the UV spectrum has not been explained.

We show that HST UV spectrum, and the FUSE FUV spectrum, can both be understood using the same underlying model that explains the optical spectrum. To do so, however, it is necessary to take into account the occultation of the central source by dust. It is also important to realize that in the UV, the HST is partially resolving the central source. Due to strong mass loss, the wind is optically thick in UV resonance lines even at large radii. The UV resonance lines are responsible for the UV halo seen around Eta Carinae, and provide a partial explanation of why Eta Carinae can even be seen at UV wavelengths.

This work was supported by STScI proposals 09083 and 09420, and a NASA grant (NAG5-10378) through the FUSE GO program.

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