The O I] 1641 Å line as a probe of symbiotic star winds
Dipartimento di Fisica “Enrico Fermi”, Università di Pisa, largo B. Pontecorvo 3, 56127 Pisa, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
2 INFN - Sezione di Pisa, Italy
3 Catholic University of America, Dept. of Physics, 620 Michigan Ave NE, Washington DC, 20064, USA
4 NASA-GSFC, Code 667, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA
Accepted: 12 March 2010
Aims. The neutral oxygen resonance λ1302 Å line can, if the optical depth is sufficiently high, de-excite by an intercombination transition at λ1641 Å to a metastable state. This has been noted in a number of previous studies but never systematically investigated as a diagnostic of the neutral red giant wind in symbiotic stars and symbiotic-like recurrent novae.
Methods. We used archival IUE high resolution, and HST GHRS and STIS medium and high resolution, spectra to study a sample of symbiotic stars. The integrated fluxes were measured, where possible, for the O I λ1302 Å and O I] λ1641 Å lines.
Results. The intercombination λ1641 Å line is detected in a substantial number of symbiotic stars with optical depths that give column densities comparable with direct eclipse measures (EG And) and the evolution of the recurrent nova RS Oph 1985 in outburst. In four systems (EG And, Z And, V1016 Cyg, and RR Tel), we find that the O I] variations are strongly correlated with the optical light curve and outburst activity. This transition can also be important for the study of a wide variety of sources in which an ionization-bounded H II region is imbedded in an extensive neutral medium, including active galactic nuclei, and not only for evaluations of extinction.
Key words: binaries: symbiotic / atomic processes / galaxies: active / circumstellar matter
© ESO, 2010