European Southern Observatory,
Garching bei München,
2 Konkoly Observatory of the Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Konkoly Thege Miklós út 15-17, 1121 Budapest, Hungary
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 27 March 2015
Accepted: 19 May 2015
Context. The prototypical low-mass young stellar object, T Tauri, is a well-studied multiple system with at least three components.
Aims. We aim to explore the T Tau system with the highest spatial resolution, study the time evolution of the known components, and re-determine the orbital parameters of the stars.
Methods. Near-infrared classical imaging and integral field spectrograph observations were obtained during the Science Verification of SPHERE, the new high-contrast imaging facility at the VLT. The obtained FWHM of the primary star varies between 0.050′′ and 0.059′′, making these the highest spatial resolution near-infrared images of the T Tauri system obtained to date.
Results. Our near-infrared images confirm the presence of extended emission south of T Tau Sa, reported in the literature. New narrow-band images show, for the first time, that this feature shows strong emission in both the Br-γ and H2 1−0 S(1) lines. Broadband imaging at 2.27 μm shows that T Tau Sa is 0.92 mag brighter than T Tau Sb, which is in contrast to observations from Jan. 2014 (when T Tau Sa was fainter than Sb), and demonstrates that T Tau Sa has entered a new period of high variability. The newly obtained astrometric positions of T Tau Sa and Sb agree with orbital fits from previous works. The orbit of T Tau S (the centre of gravity of Sa and Sb) around T Tau N is poorly constrained by the available observations and can be fit with a range of orbits ranging from a nearly circular orbit with a period of 475 years to highly eccentric orbits with periods up to 2.7 × 104 years. We also detected a feature south of T Tau N, at a distance of 144 ± 3 mas, which shows the properties of a new companion.
Key words: stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be / stars: pre-main sequence / stars: evolution / binaries: visual / techniques: high angular resolution / instrumentation: adaptive optics
Based on observations made at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under programme ID 60.A-9363(A) and 60.A-9364(A).
Figures 3−5 are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2015