During the past decade η Car has brightened markedly, possibly indicating a change of state. Here we summarize photometry gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) as part of the HST Treasury Project on this object. Our data include Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) CCD acquisition images, Advanced Camera for Surveys HRC images in four filters, and synthetic photometry in flux-calibrated STIS spectra. The HSTs spatial resolution allows us to examine the central star separate from the bright circumstellar ejecta. Its apparent brightness continued to increase briskly during 2002-2006, especially after the mid-2003 spectroscopic event. If this trend continues, the central star will soon become brighter than its ejecta, quite different from the state that existed only a few years ago. One precedent may be the rapid change observed in 1938-1953. We conjecture that the star's mass-loss rate has been decreasing throughout the past century.
- Stars: activity
- Stars: individual (η Car)