Volume 642, October 2020
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||08 October 2020|
Evidence for localized onset of episodic mass loss in Mira
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Université de Paris,
5 place Jules Janssen,
2 NSF’s NOIRLab, 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
3 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Casilla 19001, Santiago de Chile, Chile
4 Université de Lyon, Université Lyon1, ENS de Lyon, CNRS, Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon UMR 5574, 69230 Saint-Genis-Laval, France
5 Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
6 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
7 Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
8 University of Michigan, 941 Dennison Building, 500 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1090, USA
9 RAL Space, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell, Didcot, OX11 0QX, UK
10 W. M. Keck Observatory, 65-1120 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, HI 96743, USA
11 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, M/S 301-451, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
Accepted: 14 August 2020
Context. Mass loss from long-period variable stars (LPV) is an important contributor to the evolution of galactic abundances. Dust formation is understood to play an essential role in mass loss. It has, however, proven difficult to develop measurements that strongly constrain the location and timing of dust nucleation and acceleration.
Aims. Interferometric imaging has the potential to constrain the geometry and dynamics of mass loss. High angular resolution studies of various types have shown that LPVs have a distinct core-halo structure. These have also shown that LPV images commonly exhibit a non-circular shape. The nature of this shape and its implications are yet to be understood.
Methods. Multi-telescope interferometric measurements taken with the Interferometric Optical Telescope Array (IOTA) provide imagery of the LPV Mira in the H-band. This wavelength region is well suited to studying mass loss given the low continuum opacity, which allows for emission to be observed over a very long path in the stellar atmosphere and envelope.
Results. The observed visibilities are consistent with a simple core-halo model to represent the central object and the extended molecular layers but, in addition, they demonstrate a substantial asymmetry. An analysis with image reconstruction software shows that the asymmetry is consistent with a localized absorbing patch. The observed opacity is tentatively associated with small dust grains, which will grow substantially during a multi-year ejection process. Spatial information along with a deduced dust content of the cloud, known mass loss rates, and ejection velocities provide evidence for the pulsational pumping of the extended molecular layers. The cloud may be understood as a spatially local zone of enhanced dust formation, very near to the pulsating halo. The observed mass loss could be provided by several such active regions around the star.
Conclusions. This result provides an additional clue for better understanding the clumpiness of dust production in the atmosphere of AGB stars. It is compatible with scenarios where the combination of pulsation and convection play a key role in the process of mass loss.
Key words: stars: atmospheres / stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: mass-loss / techniques: interferometric / infrared: stars / stars: individual: Mira
© G. Perrin et al. 2020
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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