Fast ray-tracing algorithm for circumstellar structures (FRACS)
I. Algorithm description and parameter-space study for mid-IR interferometry of B[e] stars
UMR 6525 CNRS, H. FIZEAU-Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Observatoire
de la Côte d’Azur,
Nice Cedex 2,
Accepted: 9 September 2010
Aims. The physical interpretation of spectro-interferometric data is strongly model-dependent. On one hand, models involving elaborate radiative transfer solvers are too time consuming in general to perform an automatic fitting procedure and derive astrophysical quantities and their related errors. On the other hand, using simple geometrical models does not give sufficient insights into the physics of the object. We propose to stand in between these two extreme approaches by using a physical but still simple parameterised model for the object under consideration. Based on this philosophy, we developed a numerical tool optimised for mid-infrared (mid-IR) interferometry, the fast ray-tracing algorithm for circumstellar structures (FRACS), which can be used as a stand-alone model, or as an aid for a more advanced physical description or even for elaborating observation strategies.
Methods. FRACS is based on the ray-tracing technique without scattering, but supplemented with the use of quadtree meshes and the full symmetries of the axisymmetrical problem to significantly decrease the necessary computing time to obtain e.g. monochromatic images and visibilities. We applied FRACS in a theoretical study of the dusty circumstellar environments (CSEs) of B[e] supergiants (sgB[e]) in order to determine which information (physical parameters) can be retrieved from present mid-IR interferometry (flux and visibility).
Results. From a set of selected dusty CSE models typical of sgB[e] stars we show that together with the geometrical parameters (position angle, inclination, inner radius), the temperature structure (inner dust temperature and gradient) can be well constrained by the mid-IR data alone. Our results also indicate that the determination of the parameters characterising the CSE density structure is more challenging but, in some cases, upper limits as well as correlations on the parameters characterising the mass loss can be obtained. Good constraints for the sgB[e] central continuum emission (central star and inner gas emissions) can be obtained whenever its contribution to the total mid-IR flux is only as high as a few percents. Ray-tracing parameterised models such as FRACS are thus well adapted to prepare and/or interpret long wavelengths (from mid-IR to radio) observations at present (e.g. VLTI/MIDI) and near-future (e.g. VLTI/MATISSE, ALMA) interferometers.
Key words: methods: numerical / methods: observational / techniques: high angular resolution / techniques: interferometric / stars: mass loss / stars: emission-line, Be
© ESO, 2010