A remarkable double helix in the V838 Mon nebula
Alfvén Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 22 February 2005
In the beginning of 2002 the previously unnoted star V838 Mon had a powerful outburst. The star is surrounded by pre-existing, dusty clouds which are illuminated by the star in an expanding, parabolic layer. Spectacular images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys show that the clouds are to a great extent built up by filaments and concentric shells. One of the most remarkable features is a filamentary structure forming a double helix. The structure, which has a projected length and width of ~ and ∼, respectively, points almost radially towards V838 Mon. In order to reveal the geometry of the double helix in some more detail, a three-dimensional computer model of the structure has been constructed. The model also assists in determining the expansion rate of the light echoes along the double helix. By means of the expansion rate and the tilt of the double helix the distance to V838 Mon is determined to be kpc. A theory of the double helix, based on a magnetized and twisted filament, is presented. Dynamic and magnetic forces play an essential role in the shaping of the double helix. The theory is supported by a mechanical analogy model. Double helices in other cosmic environments are also discussed.
Key words: stars: individual: V838 Mon / stars: winds, outflows / cicumstellar matter / ISM: clouds / plasmas / ISM: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2005