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  1. Abstract

    The cool hypergiant star RW Cephei is currently in a deep photometric minimum that began several years ago. This event bears a strong similarity to the Great Dimming of the red supergiant Betelgeuse that occurred in 2019–2020. We present the first resolved images of RW Cephei that we obtained with the CHARA Array interferometer. The angular diameter and Gaia distance estimates indicate a stellar radius of 900–1760R, which makes RW Cephei one of the largest stars known in the Milky Way. The reconstructed, near-infrared images show a striking asymmetry in the disk illumination with a bright patch offset from the center and a darker zone to the west. The imaging results depend on assumptions made about the extended flux, and we present two cases with and without allowing extended emission. We also present a recent near-infrared spectrum of RW Cep that demonstrates that the fading is much larger at visual wavelengths compared to that at near-infrared wavelengths as expected for extinction by dust. We suggest that the star’s dimming is the result of a recent surface mass ejection event that created a dust cloud that now partially blocks the stellar photosphere.

     
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  2. Abstract

    The inner regions of protoplanetary disks host many complex physical processes such as star–disk interactions, magnetic fields, planet formation, and the migration of new planets. To study directly this region requires milliarcsecond angular resolution, beyond the diffraction limit of the world's largest optical telescopes and even too small for the millimeter-wave interferometer Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). However, we can use infrared interferometers to image the inner astronomical unit. Here, we present new results from the CHARA and VLTI arrays for the young and luminous Herbig Be star HD 190073. We detect a sub-astronomical unit (sub-AU) cavity surrounded by a ring-like structure that we interpret as the dust destruction front. We model the shape with six radial profiles, three symmetric and three asymmetric, and present a model-free image reconstruction. All the models are consistent with a near face-on disk with an inclination ≲20°, and we measure an average ring radius of 1.4 ± 0.2 mas (1.14 au). Around 48% of the total flux comes from the disk with 15% of that emission appearing to emerge from inside the inner rim. The cause of emission is still unclear, perhaps due to different dust grain compositions or gas emission. The skewed models and the imaging point to an off-center star, possibly due to binarity. Our image shows sub-AU structure, which seems to move between the two epochs inconsistently with Keplerian motion and we discuss possible explanations for this apparent change.

     
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  5. Abstract

    We presentH-band interferometric observations of the red supergiant (RSG) AZ Cyg that were made with the Michigan Infra-Red Combiner (MIRC) at the six-telescope Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) Array. The observations span 5 yr (2011–2016), which offers insight into the short and long-term evolution of surface features on RSGs. Using a spectrum of AZ Cyg obtained with SpeX on the NASA InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF) and synthetic spectra calculated from spherical MARCS, spherical PHOENIX, and SAtlas model atmospheres, we deriveTeffis between 3972 K and 4000 K andloggbetween −0.50 and 0.00, depending on the stellar model used. Using fits to the squared visibility and GAIA parallaxes, we measure its average radiusR=91150+57R. Reconstructions of the stellar surface using our model-independent imaging codes SQUEEZE and OITOOLS.jl show a complex surface with small bright features that appear to vary on a timescale of less than one year and larger features that persist for more than one year. The 1D power spectra of these images suggest a characteristic size of 0.52–0.69Rfor the larger, long lived features. This is close to the values of 0.51–0.53Rthat are derived from 3D RHD models of stellar surfaces. We conclude that interferometric imaging of this star is in line with predictions of 3D RHD models but that short-term imaging is needed to more stringently test predictions of convection in RSGs.

     
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  6. Context. T Tauri stars are low-mass young stars whose disks provide the setting for planet formation. Despite this, their structure is poorly understood. We present new infrared interferometric observations of the SU Aurigae circumstellar environment that offer resolution that is three times higher and a better baseline position angle coverage than previous observations. Aims. We aim to investigate the characteristics of the circumstellar material around SU Aur, constrain the disk geometry, composition and inner dust rim structure. Methods. The CHARA array offers unique opportunities for long baseline observations, with baselines up to 331 m. Using the CLIMB three-telescope combiner in the K -band allows us to measure visibilities as well as closure phase. We undertook image reconstruction for model-independent analysis, and fitted geometric models such as Gaussian and ring distributions. Additionally, the fitting of radiative transfer models constrain the physical parameters of the disk. For the first time, a dusty disk wind is introduced to the radiative transfer code TORUS to model protoplanetary disks. Our implementation is motivated by theoretical models of dusty disk winds, where magnetic field lines drive dust above the disk plane close to the sublimation zone. Results. Image reconstruction reveals an inclined disk with slight asymmetry along its minor-axis, likely due to inclination effects obscuring the inner disk rim through absorption of incident star light on the near-side and thermal re-emission and scattering of the far-side. Geometric modelling of a skewed ring finds the inner rim at 0.17 ± 0.02 au with an inclination of 50.9 ± 1.0° and minor axis position angle 60.8 ± 1.2°. Radiative transfer modelling shows a flared disk with an inner radius at 0.18 au which implies a grain size of 0.4 μ m assuming astronomical silicates and a scale height of 15.0 at 100 au. Among the tested radiative transfer models, only the dusty disk wind successfully accounts for the K -band excess by introducing dust above the mid-plane. 
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