GRAVITY chromatic imaging of η Car’s core
Milliarcsecond resolution imaging of the wind-wind collision zone (Brγ, He I)
1 Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, France
3 Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
4 I. Physikalisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
5 Universidade do Porto – Faculdade de Engenharia, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal
6 CENTRA, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
7 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
8 European Southern Observatory, Casilla, 19001 Santiago 19, Chile
9 Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Giessenbachstrasse, 85741 Garching bei München, Germany
10 Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 31 Fitzwilliam Place, D02 XF86 Dublin, Ireland
11 Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
12 Department of Physics, Le Conte Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720 USA
13 Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía (CNRS UMI 3386), Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Camino El Observatorio 1515, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
14 Sterrewacht Leiden, Leiden University, Postbus 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
15 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Hicks Building, Hounsfield Rd., Sheffield, S3 7RH UK
16 Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 Ch. des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
17 ONERA, The French Aerospace Lab, Châtillon, France
18 European Space Agency, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA
19 Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Edifício C8, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal
20 School of Physics, Astrophysics Group, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QL UK
Accepted: 16 July 2018
Context. η Car is one of the most intriguing luminous blue variables in the Galaxy. Observations and models of the X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, and infrared emission suggest a central binary in a highly eccentric orbit with a 5.54 yr period residing in its core. 2D and 3D radiative transfer and hydrodynamic simulations predict a primary with a dense and slow stellar wind that interacts with the faster and lower density wind of the secondary. The wind-wind collision scenario suggests that the secondary’s wind penetrates the primary’s wind creating a low-density cavity in it, with dense walls where the two winds interact. However, the morphology of the cavity and its physical properties are not yet fully constrained.
Aims. We aim to trace the inner ∼5–50 au structure of η Car’s wind-wind interaction, as seen through Brγ and, for the first time, through the He I 2s-2p line.
Methods. We have used spectro-interferometric observations with the K-band beam-combiner GRAVITY at the VLTI. The analyses of the data include (i) parametrical model-fitting to the interferometric observables, (ii) a CMFGEN model of the source’s spectrum, and (iii) interferometric image reconstruction.
Results. Our geometrical modeling of the continuum data allows us to estimate its FWHM angular size close to 2 mas and an elongation ratio ϵ = 1.06 ± 0.05 over a PA = 130° ± 20°. Our CMFGEN modeling of the spectrum helped us to confirm that the role of the secondary should be taken into account to properly reproduce the observed Brγ and He I lines. Chromatic images across the Brγ line reveal a southeast arc-like feature, possibly associated to the hot post-shocked winds flowing along the cavity wall. The images of the He I 2s-2p line served to constrain the 20 mas (∼50 au) structure of the line-emitting region. The observed morphology of He I suggests that the secondary is responsible for the ionized material that produces the line profile. Both the Brγ and the He I 2s-2p maps are consistent with previous hydrodynamical models of the colliding wind scenario. Future dedicated simulations together with an extensive interferometric campaign are necessary to refine our constraints on the wind and stellar parameters of the binary, which finally will help us predict the evolutionary path of η Car.
Key words: instrumentation: interferometers / instrumentation: high angular resolution / stars: mass-loss / stars: massive / stars: imaging / binaries: general
GRAVITY is developed in a collaboration by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, LESIA of Paris Observatory and IPAG of Université Grenoble Alpes/CNRS, the Max Planck Institute forAstronomy, the University of Cologne, the Centro Multidisciplinar de Astrofisica Lisbon and Porto, and the European Southern Observatory.
© ESO 2018