We present the size, shape and flux densities at millimeter continuum wavelengths, based on ALMA science verification observations in Band 3 (~94.6 GHz) and Band 6 (~228.7 GHz), from the binary Mira A (o Ceti) and Mira B. The Mira AB system has been observed with ALMA at a spatial resolution of down to ~25 mas. The extended atmosphere of Mira A and the wind around Mira B sources are resolved and we derive the size of Mira A and of the ionized region around Mira B. The spectral indices within Band 3 (between 89-100 GHz) and between Band 3 and Band 6 are also derived. The spectral index of Mira A is found to change from 1.71+-0.05 within Band 3 to 1.54+-0.04 between Band 3 and 6. The spectral index of Mira B is 1.3+-0.2 in Band 3, in good agreement with measurements at longer wavelengths. However it rises to 1.72+-0.11 between the bands. For the first time the extended atmosphere of a star is resolved at these frequencies and for Mira A the diameter is ~3.8x3.2 AU in Band 3 (with brightness temperature Tb~5300 K) and ~4.0x3.6 AU in Band 6 (Tb~2500 K). Additionally, a bright hotspot of ~0.4 AU and with Tb~10000 K is found on the stellar disc of Mira A. The size of the ionized region around the accretion disk of Mira B is found to be ~2.4 AU. The emission around Mira B is consistent with that from a partially ionized wind of gravitationally bound material from Mira A close to the accretion disk of Mira B. The Mira A atmosphere does not fully match predictions, with brightness temperatures in Band 3 significantly higher than expected, potentially due to shock heating. The hotspot is likely due to magnetic activity and could be related to the previously observed X-ray flare of Mira A.
Authors: W.H.T. Vlemmings, S. Ramstedt, E. O'Gorman, E.M.L. Humphreys, M. Wittkowski, A. Baudry, M. Karovska
Context. Z CMa is a binary composed of an embedded Herbig Be and an FU Ori class star separated by ~100 au. Observational evidence indicates a complex environment in which each star has a circumstellar disk and drives a jet, and the whole system is embedded in a large dusty envelope.
Aims. We aim to probe the circumbinary environment of Z CMa in the inner 400 au in scattered light.
Methods. We use high-contrast imaging polarimetry with VLT/NaCo at the H and Ks bands.
Results. The central binary is resolved in both bands. The polarized images show three bright and complex structures: a common dust envelope, a sharp extended feature previously reported in direct light, and an intriguing bright clump located south of the binary, which appears spatially connected to the sharp extended feature.
Conclusions. We detect orbital motion when compared to previous observations, and report a new outburst driven by the Herbig star. Our observations reveal the complex inner environment of Z CMa in unprecedented detail and contrast.
Authors: H. Canovas, S. Perez, C. Dougados, J. de Boer, F. Ménard, S. Casassus, M. R. Schreiber, L. A. Cieza, C. Caceres and J. H. Girard
The origin of type Ia supernovae, the standard candles used to reveal the presence of dark energy in the universe, is one of astronomy’s most beguiling mysteries. Astronomers know they occur when a white dwarf explodes in a binary system with another star, but the properties of that second star — and how it triggers the explosion — have remained elusive for decades.
Now, a team of astronomers from the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF), including those associated with UC Santa Barbara, have witnessed a supernova smashing into a nearby star, shocking it, and creating an ultraviolet glow that reveals the size of the companion. The discovery involved the rapid response and coordination of iPTF, NASA’s Swift satellite and the new capabilities of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT).
The hydrogen-deficient, carbon-rich R Coronae Borealis (RCB) stars are known for being prolific producers of dust which causes their large iconic declines in brightness. Several RCB stars, including R CrB, itself, have large extended dust shells seen in the far-infrared. The origin of these shells is uncertain but they may give us clues to the evolution of the RCB stars. The shells could form in three possible ways. 1) they are fossil Planetary Nebula (PN) shells, which would exist if RCB stars are the result of a final, helium-shell flash, 2) they are material left over from a white-dwarf merger event which formed the RCB stars, or 3) they are material lost from the star during the RCB phase. Arecibo 21-cm observations establish an upper limit on the column density of H I in the R CrB shell implying a maximum shell mass of less than 0.3 solar masses. A low-mass fossil PN shell is still a possible source of the shell although it may not contain enough dust. The mass of gas lost during a white-dwarf merger event will not condense enough dust to produce the observed shell, assuming a reasonable gas-to-dust ratio. The third scenario where the shell around R CrB has been produced during the star's RCB phase seems most likely to produce the observed mass of dust and the observed size of the shell. But this means that R CrB has been in its RCB phase for approximately 10^4 yrs.
Authors: Edward J. Montiel, Geoffrey C. Clayton, Dominic C. Marcello, Felix J. Lockman