EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 409, Number 2, October II 2003
Page(s) 573 - 580
Section Formation, structure and evolution of stars
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030981

A&A 409, 573-580 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030981

Detection of an orbiting gas disk in the Red Rectangle

V. Bujarrabal1, R. Neri2, J. Alcolea3 and C. Kahane


1  Observatorio Astronómico Nacional, Apartado 1143, 28800 Alcalá de Henares, Spain
2  IRAM, 300 rue de la Piscine, 38406 St Martin d'Hères, France
    e-mail: neri@iram.fr
3  Observatorio Astronómico Nacional, C/Alfonso XII, 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain
    e-mail: j.alcolea@oan.es
4  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
    e-mail: Claudine.Kahane@obs.ujf-grenoble.fr

(Received 9 April 2003 / Accepted 19 June 2003 )

We present interferometric maps of CO emission in the Red Rectangle, a well known protoplanetary nebula. The CO emission is found to arise from a relatively thin equatorial disk, extending about 5´´ in the direction perpendicular to the symmetry axis of the optical nebula. The velocity dispersion of the emission clearly increases towards the center, in a pattern significantly coincident with that expected for a Keplerian velocity field. Modeling of the CO maps confirms that the emitting gas is probably rotating around the central star(s), with a Kepler-like velocity distribution (at least in the central regions) that would correspond to a central mass ~0.9  $M_{\odot}$. Other possible explanations to the observations are discussed, but are found to be unlikely. Our models also suggest that the density and temperature increase towards the center roughly proportionally to the inverse radius. The asymmetry observed in the line profile and intensity distribution (the red part being stronger) can be explained by self-absorption if, superimposed to the rotation velocity, there is a low radial expansion at a velocity of about 0.4 km s -1, at least in the outer disk regions.

This is the first probable detection of a gas disk in Kepler-like rotation around a post-AGB star.

Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB -- stars: circumstellar matter -- radio-lines: stars -- planetary nebulae: individual: Red Rectangle

Offprint request: V. Bujarrabal, v.bujarrabal@oan.es

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