VLTI/AMBER spectro-interferometric imaging of VX Sagittarii's inhomogenous outer atmosphere*
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, Postfach 1317, 85741 Garching b. München, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 GRAAL, Université de Montpellier II – IPM, CNRS, Place Eugène Bataillon 34095 Montpellier Cedex 05, France
3 Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, CNRS/UMR 8109, 92190 Meudon, France
4 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
5 ESO, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
6 AIRI/Observatoire de Lyon, France and Jean-Marie Mariotti Center, France
7 Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon, UMR 5574: CNRS, Université de Lyon, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 46 allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France
8 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Division of Astronomy and Space Physics, Uppsala University, Box 515, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
9 Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg (ZAH), Institut für Theoretische Astrophysik, Albert Ueberle-Str. 2, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
10 Sydney Institute for Astronomy, School of Physics, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Accepted: 23 November 2009
Aims. We aim to explore the photosphere of the very cool late-type star VX Sgr and in particular the characterization of molecular layers above the continuum forming photosphere.
Methods. We obtained interferometric observations with the VLTI/AMBER interferometer using the fringe tracker FINITO in the spectral domain 1.45-2.50 μm with a spectral resolution of and baselines ranging from 15 to 88 m. We performed independent image reconstruction for different wavelength bins and fit the interferometric data with a geometrical toy model. We also compared the data to 1D dynamical models of Miras atmosphere and to 3D hydrodynamical simulations of red supergiant (RSG) and asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars.
Results. Reconstructed images and visibilities show a strong wavelength dependence. The H-band images display two bright spots whose positions are confirmed by the geometrical toy model. The inhomogeneities are qualitatively predicted by 3D simulations. At μm and in the region μm, the photosphere appears extended and the radius is larger than in the H band. In this spectral region, the geometrical toy model locates a third bright spot outside the photosphere that can be a feature of the molecular layers. The wavelength dependence of the visibility can be qualitatively explained by 1D dynamical models of Mira atmospheres. The best-fitting photospheric models show a good match with the observed visibilities and give a photospheric diameter of ± 0.50 mas. The H2O molecule seems to be the dominant absorber in the molecular layers.
Conclusions. We show that the atmosphere of VX Sgr seems to resemble Mira/AGB star model atmospheres more closely than do RSG model atmospheres. In particular, we see molecular (water) layers that are typical of Mira stars.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: atmospheres / stars: individual: VX Sagittarii / techniques: interferometric / supergiants
© ESO, 2010