Spectrophotometric Evolution of Eta Carinae's Great Eruption

Rest, Armin; Prieto, Jose Luis; Bianco, Federica; Matheson, Thomas; Smith, Nathan; Smith, Chris; Chornock, Ryan; Sinnott, Brendan; Welch, Douglas; Walborn, Nolan
Massive Stars: From α to Ω, held 10-14 June 2013 in Rhodes, Greece; Online at, id.132 (2013).


Eta Carinae is one of the most massive binaries in the Milky Way, and its expanding circumstellar nebula has been studied in detail. It was seen as the second brightest star in the sky during its 1800s "Great Eruption", but only visual estimates of its brightness were recorded. We discovered light echoes of the Great Eruption, which allowed us to obtain a spectrum of this event now, 150 years after it was first observed. We will present our new follow-up observations with which we have started to retrace its spectrophotometric evolution during and before the eruption.