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  1. Context. Stellar evolution models are highly dependent on accurate mass estimates, especially for highly massive stars in the early stages of stellar evolution. The most direct method for obtaining model-independent stellar masses is derivation from the orbit of close binaries. Aims. Our aim was to derive the first astrometric plus radial velocity orbit solution for the single-lined spectroscopic binary star MWC 166 A, based on near-infrared interferometry over multiple epochs and ∼100 archival radial velocity measurements, and to derive fundamental stellar parameters from this orbit. A supplementary aim was to model the circumstellar activity in the system from K band spectral lines. Methods. The data used include interferometric observations from the VLTI instruments GRAVITY and PIONIER, as well as the MIRC-X instrument at the CHARA Array. We geometrically modelled the dust continuum to derive relative astrometry at 13 epochs, determine the orbital elements, and constrain individual stellar parameters at five different age estimates. We used the continuum models as a base to examine differential phases, visibilities, and closure phases over the Br γ and He  I emission lines in order to characterise the nature of the circumstellar emission. Results. Our orbit solution suggests a period of P  = 367.7 ± 0.1 d, approximatelymore »twice as long as found with previous radial velocity orbit fits. We derive a semi-major axis of 2.61 ± 0.04 au at d  = 990 ± 50 pc, an eccentricity of 0.498 ± 0.001, and an orbital inclination of 53.6 ± 0.3°. This allowed the component masses to be constrained to M 1  = 12.2 ± 2.2  M ⊙ and M 2  = 4.9 ± 0.5  M ⊙ . The line-emitting gas was found to be localised around the primary and is spatially resolved on scales of ∼11 stellar radii, where the spatial displacement between the line wings is consistent with a rotating disc. Conclusions. The large spatial extent and stable rotation axis orientation measured for the Br γ and He  I line emission are inconsistent with an origin in magnetospheric accretion or boundary-layer accretion, but indicate an ionised inner gas disc around this Herbig Be star. We observe line variability that could be explained either with generic line variability in a Herbig star disc or V/R variations in a decretion disc scenario. We have also constrained the age of the system, with relative flux ratios suggesting an age of ∼(7 ± 2)×10 5 yr, consistent with the system being composed of a main-sequence primary and a secondary still contracting towards the main-sequence stage.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Castor is a system of six stars in which the two brighter objects, Castor A and B, revolve around each other every ∼450 yr and are both short-period spectroscopic binaries. They are attended by the more distant Castor C, which is also a binary. Here we report interferometric observations with the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array that spatially resolve the companions in Castor A and B for the first time. We complement these observations with new radial velocity measurements of A and B spanning 30 yr, with the Hipparcos intermediate data, and with existing astrometric observations of the visual AB pair obtained over the past three centuries. We perform a joint orbital solution to solve simultaneously for the three-dimensional orbits of Castor A and B as well as the AB orbit. We find that they are far from being coplanar: the orbit of A is nearly at right angles (92°) relative to the wide orbit, and that of B is inclined about 59° compared to AB. We determine the dynamical masses of the four stars in Castor A and B to a precision better than 1%. We also determine the radii of the primary stars ofmore »both subsystems from their angular diameters measured with the CHARA array, and use them together with stellar evolution models to infer an age for the system of 290 Myr. The new knowledge of the orbits enables us to measure the slow motion of Castor C as well, which may assist future studies of the dynamical evolution of this remarkable sextuple system.

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  3. Abstract

    Because many classical Be stars may owe their nature to mass and angular-momentum transfer in a close binary, the present masses, temperatures, and radii of their components are of high interest for comparison to stellar evolution models. ObjectκDra is a 61.5 day single-lined binary with a B6 IIIe primary. With the CHARA Array instruments MIRC/MIRC-X and MYSTIC, we detected the secondary at (approximately photospheric) flux ratios of 1.49% ± 0.10% and 1.63% ± 0.09% in theHandKband, respectively. From a large and diverse optical spectroscopic database, only the radial velocity curve of the Be star could be extracted. However, employing the parallaxes from Hipparcos and Gaia, which agree within their nominal 1σerrors, we could derive the total mass and found component masses of 3.65 ± 0.48 and 0.426 ± 0.043Mfor the Be star and the companion, respectively. Previous cross-correlation of the observed FUV spectrum with O-type subdwarf (sdO) spectral model templates had not detected a companion belonging to the hot sdO population known from ∼20 earlier-type Be stars. Guided by our full 3D orbital solution, we found a strong cross-correlation signal for a stripped subdwarf B-type companion (FUV flux ratio of 2.3% ± 0.5%), enabling the first firm characterization ofmore »such a star and makingκDra the first mid- to late-type Be star with a directly observed subdwarf companion.

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  4. Abstract We present the complete sample of protoplanetary disks from the Gemini- Large Imaging with the Gemini Planet Imager Herbig/T Tauri Survey, which observed bright Herbig Ae/Be stars and T Tauri stars in near-infrared polarized light to search for signatures of disk evolution and ongoing planet formation. The 44 targets were chosen based on their near- and mid-infrared colors, with roughly equal numbers of transitional, pre-transitional, and full disks. Our approach explicitly did not favor well-known, “famous” disks or those observed by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, resulting in a less-biased sample suitable to probe the major stages of disk evolution during planet formation. Our optimized data reduction allowed polarized flux as low as 0.002% of the stellar light to be detected, and we report polarized scattered light around 80% of our targets. We detected point-like companions for 47% of the targets, including three brown dwarfs (two confirmed, one new), and a new super-Jupiter-mass candidate around V1295 Aql. We searched for correlations between the polarized flux and system parameters, finding a few clear trends: the presence of a companion drastically reduces the polarized flux levels, far-IR excess correlates with polarized flux for nonbinary systems, and systems hosting disks with ringmore »structures have stellar masses <3 M ⊙ . Our sample also included four hot, dusty “FS CMa” systems, and we detected large-scale ( >100 au) scattered light around each, signs of extreme youth for these enigmatic systems. Science-ready images are publicly available through multiple distribution channels using a new FITS file standard that has been jointly developed with members of the Very Large Telescope Spectro-polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research team.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 23, 2023
  5. ABSTRACT

    We present multi-instrument observations of the disc around the Herbig Ae star, HD 145718, employing geometric and Monte Carlo radiative transfer models to explore the disc orientation, the vertical and radial extent of the near-infrared (NIR) scattering surface, and the properties of the dust in the disc surface and sublimation rim. The disc appears inclined at 67–71°, with position angle, PA = −1.0 to 0.6°, consistent with previous estimates. The NIR scattering surface extends out to ${\sim}75\,$ au and we infer an aspect ratio, hscat(r)/r ∼ 0.24 in J band; ∼0.22 in H band. Our Gemini Planet Imager images and VLTI + CHARA NIR interferometry suggest that the disc surface layers are populated by grains ≳λ/2π in size, indicating these grains are aerodynamically supported against settling and/or the density of smaller grains is relatively low. We demonstrate that our geometric analysis provides a reasonable assessment of the height of the NIR scattering surface at the outer edge of the disc and, if the inclination can be independently constrained, has the potential to probe the flaring exponent of the scattering surface in similarly inclined (i ≳ 70°) discs. In re-evaluating HD 145718’s stellar properties, we found that the object’s dimming events – previously characterized as UX Ormore »and dipper variability – are consistent with dust occultation by grains larger, on average, than found in the ISM. This occulting dust likely originates close to the inferred dust sublimation radius at $0.17\,$ au.

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  6. Abstract The distortions of absorption line profiles caused by photospheric brightness variations on the surfaces of cool, main-sequence stars can mimic or overwhelm radial velocity (RV) shifts due to the presence of exoplanets. The latest generation of precision RV spectrographs aims to detect velocity amplitudes ≲ 10 cm s −1 , but requires mitigation of stellar signals. Statistical techniques are being developed to differentiate between Keplerian and activity-related velocity perturbations. Two important challenges, however, are the interpretability of the stellar activity component as RV models become more sophisticated, and ensuring the lowest-amplitude Keplerian signatures are not inadvertently accounted for in flexible models of stellar activity. For the K2V exoplanet host ϵ Eridani, we separately used ground-based photometry to constrain Gaussian processes for modeling RVs and TESS photometry with a light-curve inversion algorithm to reconstruct the stellar surface. From the reconstructions of TESS photometry, we produced an activity model that reduced the rms scatter in RVs obtained with EXPRES from 4.72 to 1.98 m s −1 . We present a pilot study using the CHARA Array and MIRC-X beam combiner to directly image the starspots seen in the TESS photometry. With the limited phase coverage, our spot detections are marginal withmore »current data but a future dedicated observing campaign should allow for imaging, as well as allow the stellar inclination and orientation with respect to the debris disk to be definitively determined. This work shows that stellar surface maps obtained with high-cadence, time-series photometric and interferometric data can provide the constraints needed to accurately reduce RV scatter.« less
  7. Abstract

    Classical Be stars are possible products of close binary evolution, in which the mass donor becomes a hot, stripped O- or B-type subdwarf (sdO/sdB), and the mass gainer spins up and grows a disk to become a Be star. While several Be+sdO binaries have been identified, dynamical masses and other fundamental parameters are available only for a single Be+sdO system, limiting the confrontation with binary evolution models. In this work, we present direct interferometric detections of the sdO companions of three Be stars—28 Cyg, V2119 Cyg, and 60 Cyg—all of which were previously found in UV spectra. For two of the three Be+sdO systems, we present first orbits and preliminary dynamical masses of the components, revealing that one of them could be the first identified progenitor of a Be/X-ray binary with a neutron star companion. These results provide new sets of fundamental parameters that are crucially needed to establish the evolutionary status and origin of Be stars.

  8. Mérand, Antoine ; Sallum, Stephanie ; Tuthill, Peter G. (Ed.)
    We present a new polarimetric mode for the MIRC-X 6-telescope beam combiner at CHARA. Utilizing the extensive u - v coverage afforded by CHARA this mode will be able to resolve and constrain scattered light in environs at milliarcsecond separations of target stars, a largely unexplored parameter space to-date in astronomy. Notably, this upgrade will allow for the investigation of the scattering properties of the inner dust wall at the sublimation radius of Herbig Ae/Be star disks, dust shells surrounding evolved stars, and gas-rich disks around Be stars. Our design adds a series of rotating half-wave plates, achromatic across J- and H-bands, and a polarizing beamsplitter into the MIRC-X beam path. In this work, we also preview on-sky observations, discussing ongoing work calibrating instrumental polarization effects in the CHARA beam path as well as upgrades to the MIRC-X data reduction pipeline.
  9. Context. FU Orionis is the archetypal FUor star, a subclass of young stellar objects (YSOs) that undergo rapid brightening events, often gaining between four and six magnitudes on timescales of days. This brightening is often associated with a massive increase in accretion, which is one of the most ubiquitous processes in astrophysics for bodies ranging from planets and stars to super-massive black holes. We present multi-band interferometric observations of the FU Ori circumstellar environment, including the first J -band interferometric observations of a YSO. Aims. We investigate the morphology and temperature gradient of the innermost regions of the accretion disk around FU Orionis. We aim to characterise the heating mechanisms of the disk and comment on potential outburst-triggering processes. Methods. Recent upgrades to the MIRC-X instrument at the CHARA array have allowed for the first dual-band J and H observations of YSOs. Using baselines up to 331 m, we present high-angular-resolution data of a YSO covering the near-infrared bands J , H , and K . The unprecedented spectral range of the data allowed us to apply temperature gradient models to the innermost regions of FU Ori. Results. We spatially resolved the innermost astronomical unit of the disk and determinemore »the exponent of the temperature gradient of the inner disk to T ∝ r −0.74 ± 0.02 . This agrees with theoretical works that predict T ∝ r −0.75 for actively accreting, steady-state disks, which is a value only obtainable through viscous heating within the disk. We found a disk that extends down to the stellar surface at 0.015 ± 0.007 au, where the temperature is found to be 5800 ± 700 K. We found a disk inclined at 32 ± 4° with a minor-axis position angle of 34 ± 11°. Conclusions. We demonstrate that J -band interferometric observations of YSOs are feasible with the MIRC-X instrument at CHARA. The temperature gradient power-law derived for the inner disk is consistent with theoretical predictions for steady-state, optically thick, viciously heated accretion disks.« less