EDP Sciences
APEX Special Booklet
Free access
Volume 454, Number 2, August I 2006
APEX Special Booklet
Page(s) L107 - L110
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20065458

A&A 454, L107-L110 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20065458


Submillimeter vibrationally excited water emission from the peculiar red supergiant VY Canis Majoris

K. M. Menten1, S. D. Philipp1, R. Güsten1, J. Alcolea2, E. T. Polehampton3 and S. Brünken4

1  Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
    e-mail: [kmenten;sphilipp;rguesten]@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de
2  Observatorio Astronomico Nacional, C/Alfonso XII, No. 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain
    e-mail: j.alcolea@oan.es
3  Space Science and Technology Department Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QX, UK
    e-mail: E.T.Polehampton@rl.ac.uk
4  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
    e-mail: sbruenken@cfa.harvard.edu

(Received 19 April 2006 / Accepted 23 May 2006)

Context.Vibrationally excited emission from the SiO and H2O molecules probes the innermost circumstellar envelopes of oxygen-rich red giant and supergiant stars. VY CMa is the most prolific known emission source in these molecules.
Aims.Observations were made to search for rotational lines in the lowest vibrationally excited state of H2O.
Methods.The APEX telescope was used for observations of H2O lines at frequencies around 300 GHz.
Results.Two vibrationally excited H2O lines were detected, a third one could not be found. In one of the lines we find evidence for weak maser action, similar to known (sub)millimeter $\nu_2$ = 1 lines. We find that the other line's intensity is consistent with thermal excitation by the circumstellar infrared radiation field. Several SiO lines were detected together with the H2O lines.

Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB -- stars: individual: VY Canis Majoris -- supergiants -- circumstellar matter

© ESO 2006