skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 2034336

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    We examine the geometry of the post–asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star binary AC Her and its circumbinary disk. We show that the observations describe a binary orbit that is perpendicular to the disk with an angular momentum vector that is within 9° of the binary eccentricity vector, meaning that the disk is close to a stable polar alignment. The most likely explanation for the very large inner radius of the dust is a planet within the circumbinary disk. This is therefore both the first reported detection of a polar circumbinary disk around a post-AGB binary and the first evidence of a polar circumbinary planet. We consider the dynamical constraints on the circumbinary disk size and mass. The polar circumbinary disk feeds circumstellar disks with gas on orbits that are highly inclined with respect to the binary orbit plane. The resulting circumstellar disk inclination could be anywhere from coplanar to polar depending upon the competition between the mass accretion and binary torques.

     
    more » « less
  2. 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.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We present measurements of the interferometrically resolved binary star system 12 Com and the single giant star 31 Com in the cluster Coma Berenices. 12 Com is a double-lined spectroscopic binary system consisting of a G7 giant and an A3 dwarf at the cluster turnoff. Using an extensive radial velocity data set and interferometric measurements from the Palomar Testbed Interferometer and the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy array, we measured massesM1= 2.64 ± 0.07MandM2= 2.10 ± 0.03M. Interferometry also allows us to resolve the giant and measure its size asR1= 9.12 ± 0.12 ± 0.01R. With the measured masses and radii, we find an age of 533 ± 41 ± 42 Myr. For comparison, we measure the radius of 31 Com to be 8.36 ± 0.15R. Based on the photometry and radius measurements, 12 Com A is likely the most evolved bright star in the cluster, large enough to be in the red giant phase, but too small to have core helium burning. Simultaneous knowledge of 12 Com A’s mass and photometry puts strong constraints on convective core overshooting during the main-sequence phase, which in turn reduces systematic uncertainties in the age. Increased precision in measuring this system also improves our knowledge of the progenitor of the cluster white dwarf WD1216+260.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Some evolved binaries, namely post–asymptotic giant branch (AGB) binaries, are surrounded by stable and massive circumbinary disks similar to protoplanetary disks found around young stars. Around 10% of these disks are transition disks: they have a large inner cavity in the dust. Previous interferometric measurements and modeling have ruled out these cavities being formed by dust sublimation and suggested that they are due to massive circumbinary planets that trap dust in the disk and produce the observed depletion of refractory elements on the surfaces of the post-AGB stars. In this study, we test an alternative scenario in which the large cavities could be due to dynamical truncation from the inner binary. We performed near-infrared interferometric observations with the CHARA Array on the archetype of such a transition disk around a post-AGB binary: AC Her. We detect the companion at ten epochs over 4 yr and determine the three-dimensional orbit using these astrometric measurements in combination with a radial velocity time series. This is the first astrometric orbit constructed for a post-AGB binary system. We derive the best-fit orbit with a semimajor axis of 2.01 ± 0.01 mas (2.83 ± 0.08 au), inclination (142.9 ± 1.1)°, and longitude of the ascending node (155.1 ± 1.8)°. We find that the theoretical dynamical truncation and dust sublimation radii are at least ∼3× smaller than the observed inner disk radius (∼21.5 mas or 30 au). This strengthens the hypothesis that the origin of the cavity is due to the presence of a circumbinary planet.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    To accurately characterize the planets a star may be hosting, stellar parameters must first be well determined.τCeti is a nearby solar analog and often a target for exoplanet searches. Uncertainties in the observed rotational velocities have made constrainingτCeti’s inclination difficult. For planet candidates from radial velocity (RV) observations, this leads to substantial uncertainties in the planetary masses, as only the minimum mass (msini) can be constrained with RV. In this paper, we used new long-baseline optical interferometric data from the CHARA Array with the MIRC-X beam combiner and extreme precision spectroscopic data from the Lowell Discovery Telescope with EXPRES to improve constraints on the stellar parameters ofτCeti. Additional archival data were obtained from a Tennessee State University Automatic Photometric Telescope and the Mount Wilson Observatory HK project. These new and archival data sets led to improved stellar parameter determinations, including a limb-darkened angular diameter of 2.019 ± 0.012 mas and rotation period of 46 ± 4 days. By combining parameters from our data sets, we obtained an estimate for the stellar inclination of 7° ± 7°. This nearly pole-on orientation has implications for the previously reported exoplanets. An analysis of the system dynamics suggests that the planetary architecture described by Feng et al. may not retain long-term stability for low orbital inclinations. Additionally, the inclination ofτCeti reveals a misalignment between the inclinations of the stellar rotation axis and the previously measured debris disk rotation axis (idisk= 35° ± 10°).

     
    more » « less
  6. 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.

     
    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    The origin of the bright and hard X-ray emission flux among theγCas subgroup of B-emission line (Be) stars may be caused by gas accretion onto an orbiting white dwarf (WD) companion. Such Be+WD binaries are the predicted outcome of a second stage of mass transfer from a helium star mass donor to a rapidly rotating mass gainer star. The stripped donor stars become small and hot white dwarfs that are extremely faint compared to their Be star companions. Here we discuss model predictions about the physical and orbital properties of Be+WD binaries, and we show that current observational results onγCas systems are consistent with the expected large binary frequency, companion faintness and small mass, and relatively high mass range of the Be star hosts. We determine that the companions are probably not stripped helium stars (hot subdwarf sdO stars), because these are bright enough to detect in ultraviolet spectroscopy, yet their spectroscopic signatures are not observed in studies ofγCas binaries. Interferometry of relatively nearby systems provides the means to detect very faint companions including hot subdwarf and cooler main-sequence stars. Preliminary observations of fiveγCas binaries with the CHARA Array interferometer show no evidence of the companion flux, leaving white dwarfs as the only viable candidates for the companions.

     
    more » « less
  8. 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 of 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.

     
    more » « less
  9. 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 of such a star and makingκDra the first mid- to late-type Be star with a directly observed subdwarf companion.

     
    more » « less
  10. Abstract

    We observe the brightest member of the Praesepe cluster,ϵCnc, to precisely measure the characteristics of the stars in this binary system, en route to a new measurement of the cluster’s age. We present spectroscopic radial velocity measurements and interferometric observations of the sky-projected orbit to derive the masses, which we find to beM1/M= 2.420 ± 0.008 andM2/M= 2.226 ± 0.004. We place limits on the color–magnitude positions of the stars by using spectroscopic and interferometric luminosity ratios while trying to reproduce the spectral energy distribution ofϵCnc. We reexamine the cluster membership of stars at the bright end of the color–magnitude diagram using Gaia data and literature radial velocity information. The binary star data are consistent with an age of 637 ± 19 Myr, as determined from MIST model isochrones. The masses and luminosities of the stars appear to select models with the most commonly used amount of convective core overshooting.

     
    more » « less