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Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 133, 299-316

Long-term spectroscopy of $\eta$ Carinae[*][*]

I. The high and low excitation phases

A. Damineli1[*] - O. Stahl, A. Kaufer, B. Wolf2 - G. Quast3 - D.F. Lopes4

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1 - JILA University of Colorado and National Inst. for Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO 80309-0440, U.S.A.
2 - Landessternwarte, Königstuhl, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany
3 - Observatório Nacional, R. General José Cristino 77, 20921-440 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4 - Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica/CNPq, R. Estados Unidos 154, Caixa Postal 21, 37500-000 Itajubá, Brazil

Received April 20; accepted June 12, 1998


Quantitative measurements of line parameters in the spectrum of $\eta$ Carinae are presented for both the broad and narrow line components. A total of 655 spectral features were measured in the spectral range 3850Å to 11000Å, giving a comprehensive view of the behavior of atomic transitions ranging from a few to tens of electron volts. The spectrum on the phase of maximum intensity in the high excitation lines (1995) is compared with that on minimum intensity (June 1992), showing that at this phase the high excitation lines disappear but the broad components of low excitation lines strengthens. We reject a number of previous line identifications and propose several new ones, including Fe II, [Fe II], [Fe III], [N II], and the near-infrared Ca II triplet. Some lines commonly used to diagnose density, temperature, chemical composition, and reddening were found to be blended, urging a revision of the results based on previous data. The existence of double-peaked lines, suggested in previous papers, is ruled out. In the case of hydrogen lines, the apparent double-peaks are shown to be real absorption components. The velocity field in the inner 2$^{\prime\prime}$  around the central star shows additional components previously unknown. The phases of high and low excitation in $\eta$ Carinae are discussed in light of a recently proposed binary system. We suggest a temperature T$\sim$16000K for the primary star, what indicates that it is close to the beginning of the core helium-burning evolutionary stage.

Key words: stars: emission-line, Be -- stars: Hertzsprung-Russel (HR) diagram -- stars: individual: $\eta$ Carinae -- binaries: general

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