The bipolar jet of the symbiotic star R Aquarii: A study of its morphology using the high-resolution HST WFC3/UVIS camera
Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg,
2 Simcorp GmbH, Justus-von-Liebig-Strasse 1, 61352 Bad Homburg, Germany
3 Ulugh Beg Astronomical Institute, Astronomical str. 33, 700052 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Accepted: 8 January 2018
Context. R Aqr is a symbiotic binary system consisting of a Mira variable with a pulsation period of 387 days and a hot companion which is presumably a white dwarf with an accretion disk. This binary system is the source of a prominent bipolar gaseous outflow.
Aims. We use high spatial resolution and sensitive images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to identify and investigate the different structural components that form the complex morphology of the R Aqr jet.
Methods. We present new high-resolution HST WFC3/UVIS narrow-band images of the R Aqr jet obtained in 2013/14 using the [OIII]λ5007, [OI]λ6300, [NII]λ6583, and Hα emission lines. These images also allow us to produce detailed maps of the jet flow in several line ratios such as [OIII]λ5007/[OI]λ6300 and [NII]λ6583/[OI]λ6300 which are sensitive to the outflow temperature and its hydrogen ionisation fraction. The new emission maps together with archival HST data are used to derive and analyse the proper motion of prominent emitting features which can be traced over 20 years with the HST observations.
Results. The images reveal the fine gas structure of the jet out to distances of a few tens of arcseconds from the central region, as well as in the innermost region, within a few arcseconds around the stellar source. They reveal for the first time the straight, highly collimated jet component which can be traced to up to ~900 AU in the NE direction. Images in [OIII]λ5007, [OI]λ6300, and [NII]λ6583 clearly show a helical pattern in the jet beams which may derive from the small-scale precession of the jet. The highly collimated jet is accompanied by a wide opening angle outflow which is filled by low excitation gas. The position angles of the jet structures as well as their opening angles are calculated. Our measurements of the proper motions of some prominent emission knots confirm the scenario of gas acceleration during the propagation of the outflow. Finally, we produce several detailed line ratio maps which present a mosaic combined from the large field and the PSF-subtracted inner region.
Conclusions. The high signal-to-noise HST WFC3/UVIS images provide powerful tools for the study of the jet morphology and also bring detailed information about the physical jet gas conditions. The simultaneous observations of [OIII], [OI], [NII], and [SII] would allow us to measure basic parameters of the ionised gas in the R Aqr outflow such as electron density, electron temperature and hydrogen ionisation fraction, and compare them with other stellar jets.
Key words: binaries: symbiotic / ISM: jets and outflows / stars: jets / stars: winds, outflows
© ESO 2018