The H-band Emitting Region of the Luminous Blue Variable P Cygni: Spectrophotometry and Interferometry of the Wind
ten Brummelaar, TA
American Astronomical Society / IOP Publishing
We present the first high angular resolution observations in the near-infrared H band (1.6 μm) of the luminous blue variable star P Cygni. We obtained six-telescope interferometric observations with the CHARA Array and the MIRC beam combiner. These show that the spatial flux distribution is larger than expected for the stellar photosphere. A two-component model for the star (uniform disk) plus a halo (two-dimensional Gaussian) yields an excellent fit of the observations, and we suggest that the halo corresponds to flux emitted from the base of the stellar wind. This wind component contributes about 45% of the H-band flux and has an angular FWHM = 0.96 mas, compared to the predicted stellar diameter of 0.41 mas. We show several images reconstructed from the interferometric visibilities and closure phases, and they indicate a generally spherical geometry for the wind. We also obtained near-infrared spectrophotometry of P Cygni from which we derive the flux excess compared to a purely photospheric spectral energy distribution. The H-band flux excess matches that from the wind flux fraction derived from the two-component fits to the interferometry. We find evidence of significant near-infrared flux variability over the period from 2006 to 2010 that appears similar to the variations in the Hα emission flux from the wind.
We acknowledge with thanks the variable star observations from the AAVSO International Database contributed by observers worldwide and used in this research. Support for Ritter Astrophysical Research Center during the time of the observations was provided by the National Science Foundation Program for Research and Education with Small Telescopes (NSF-PREST) under grant AST-0440784 (N.D.M.). This work was also supported by the National Science Foundation under grants AST-0606861 and AST-1009080 (D.R.G.). N.D.R. gratefully acknowledges his current CRAQ postdoctoral fellowship. We are grateful for the insightful comments of A. F. J. Moffat that improved portions of the paper, discussions with Paco Najarro and Luc Dessart about spectroscopic modeling of P Cygni, and support of the MIRC 6 telescope beam combiner by Ettore Pedretti. Institutional support has been provided by the GSU College of Arts and Sciences and by the Research Program Enhancement fund of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, administered through the GSU Office of the Vice President for Research. Operational funding for the CHARA Array is provided by the GSU College of Arts and Sciences, by the National Science Foundation through grants AST-0606958 and AST-0908253, by the W. M. Keck Foundation, and by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute. We thank the Mount Wilson Institute for providing infrastructure support at Mount Wilson Observatory. The CHARA Array, operated by Georgia State University, was built with funding provided by the National Science Foundation, Georgia State University, the W. M. Keck Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. This research was conducted in part using the Mimir instrument, jointly developed at Boston University and Lowell Observatory and supported by NASA, NSF, and the W. M. Keck Foundation. J.D.M. acknowledges University of Michigan and NSF AST-0707927 for support of MIRC construction and observations. D.P.C. acknowledges support under NSF AST-0907790 to Boston University. We gratefully acknowledge all of this support. This research has made use of the SIMBAD database operated at CDS, Strasbourg, France.
This is the final version of the article. Available from American Astronomical Society / IOP Publishing via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 769 (2), article118