Eta Carinae's 2014.6 Spectroscopic Event: The Extraordinary He II and N II Features

Kris Davidson(1), Andrea Mehner(2), Roberta M. Humphreys (1), John C. Martin (3), and Kazunori Ishibashi (4)

(1) University of Minnesota, (2) ESO, (3) University of Illinois - Springfield, (4) Nagoya Univ., Japan

Eta Carinae's spectroscopic events (periastron passages) in 2003, 2009, and 2014 differed progressively. He ii lambda4687 and nearby N ii multiplet 5 have special significance because they respond to very soft X-rays and the ionizing UV radiation field (EUV). Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/STIS observations in 2014 show dramatic increases in both features compared to the previous 2009.1 event. These results appear very consistent with a progressive decline in the primary wind density, proposed years ago on other grounds. If material falls onto the companion star near periastron, the accretion rate may now have become too low to suppress the EUV.

Reference: ApJ Letters, 801L, 15D
Status: Manuscript has been accepted