EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 389, Number 3, July III 2002
Page(s) 889 - 895
Section Formation, structure and evolution of stars
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020292
Published online 01 July 2002

A&A 389, 889-895 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020292

Bispectrum speckle interferometry of the Red Rectangle : Diffraction-limited near-infrared images reconstructed from Keck telescope speckle data

P. G. Tuthill1, A. B. Men'shchikov2, D. Schertl2, J. D. Monnier3, W. C. Danchi4 and G. Weigelt2

1  Astronomy Department, School of Physics, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2  Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
    e-mail: sasha@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de; ds@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de; weigelt@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de
3  Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory MS 42, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
    e-mail: jmonnier@cfa.harvard.edu
4  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Infrared Astrophysics, Code 685, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
    e-mail: wcd@iri1.gsfc.nasa.gov

(Received 19 December 2001 / Accepted 26 February 2002)

We present new near-infrared (2.1-3.3 ) images of the Red Rectangle with unprecedented diffraction-limited angular resolutions of 46-68 mas; 4 times higher than that of the Hubble space telescope and almost a factor of two improvement over the previous 6 m SAO telecope speckle images presented by Men'shchikov et al. (1998). The new images, which were reconstructed from Keck telescope speckle data using the bispectrum speckle interferometry method, clearly show two bright lobes above and below the optically thick dark lane obscuring the central binary. X-shaped spikes, thought to trace the surface of a biconical flow, change the intensity distribution of the bright lobes, making them appear broadened or with an east-west double-peak in images with the highest resolution. The striking biconical appearance of the Red Rectangle is preserved on scales from 50 mas to 1´ and from the visible (red) to at least 10 , implying that large grains of at least several microns in size dominate scattering. The new images supplement previous 76 mas resolution speckle reconstructions at shorter wavelengths of 0.6-0.8 (Osterbart et al. 1997) and 0.7-2.2 (Men'shchikov et al. 1998), allowing a more detailed analysis of the famous bipolar nebula. The intensity distribution of the images is inconsistent with a flat disk geometry frequently used to model the bipolar nebulae. Instead, a geometrically thick torus-like density distribution with bipolar conical cavities is preferred. The extent of the bright lobes indicates that the dense torus has a diameter of ${\ga}$100 AU, for an assumed distance of 330 pc. This torus may be the outer reaches of a flared thick disk tapering inwards to the central star, however such a density enhancement on the midplane is not strictly required to explain the narrow dark lane obscuring the central stars.

Key words: techniques: image processing -- circumstellar matter -- stars: individual: Red Rectangle -- stars: mass-loss -- stars: AGB and post-AGB -- infrared: stars

Offprint request: P. G. Tuthill, gekko@physics.usyd.edu.au

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© ESO 2002

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