Volume 530, June 2011
|Number of page(s)||17|
|Published online||23 May 2011|
Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg (ZAH), Landessternwarte, Königstuhl 12, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Laboratoire Fizeau, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, BP 4229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 14 December 2010
Accepted: 17 March 2011
Aims. Asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars are among the largest distributors of dust into the interstellar medium, and it is therefore important to understand the dust formation process and sequence in their strongly pulsating extended atmosphere. By monitoring the AGB star W Hya interferometrically over a few pulsations cycles, the upper atmospheric layers can be studied to obtain information on their chemical gas and dust composition and their intracycle and cycle-to-cycle behavior.
Methods. Mid-infrared (8–13 μm) interferometric data of W Hya were obtained with MIDI/VLTI between April 2007 and September 2009, covering nearly three pulsation cycles. The spectrally dispersed visibility data of all 75 observations were analyzed by fitting a circular fully limb-darkened disk (FDD) model to all data and individual pulsation phases. Asymmetries were studied with an elliptical FDD.
Results. Modeling results in an apparent angular FDD diameter of W Hya of about (80 ± 1.2) mas (7.8 AU) between 8 and 10 μm, which corresponds to an about 1.9 times larger diameter than the photospheric one. The diameter gradually increases up to (105 ± 1.2) mas (10.3 AU) at 12 μm. In contrast, the FDD relative flux fraction decreases from (0.85 ± 0.02) to (0.77 ± 0.02), reflecting the increased flux contribution from a fully resolved surrounding silicate dust shell. The asymmetric character of the extended structure could be confirmed. An elliptical FDD yields a position angle of (11 ± 20)° and an axis ratio of (0.87 ± 0.07). A weak pulsation dependency is revealed with a diameter increase of (5.4 ± 1.8) mas between visual minimum and maximum, while detected cycle-to-cycle variations are smaller.
Conclusions. W Hya’s diameter shows a behavior that is very similar to the Mira stars RR Sco and S Ori and can be described by an analogous model. The constant diameter part results from a partially resolved stellar disk, including a close molecular layer of H2O, while the increase beyond 10 μm can most likely be attributed to the contribution of a spatially resolved nearby Al2O3 dust shell. Probably due to the low mass-loss rate, close Fe-free silicate dust could not be detected. The results suggest that the formation of amorphous Al2O3 occurs mainly at visual minimum. A possible close Al2O3 dust shell has now been revealed in a few objects calling for self-consistent dynamic atmospheric models including dust formation close to the star. The asymmetry might be explained by an enhanced dust concentration along an N-S axis.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: individual: W Hya / techniques: high angular resolution / circumstellar matter / techniques: interferometric / infrared: stars
Based on observations made with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at the Paranal Observatory under program IDs 079.D-0140, 080.D-0005, 081.D-0198, 082.D-0641 and 083.D-0294.
FITS files of the calibrated visibilities are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/530/A120
© ESO, 2011
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