Sunday, June 5, 2016

Imaging the dust sublimation front of a circumbinary disk

Hillen et al



We present the first near-IR milli-arcsecond-scale image of a post-AGB binary that is surrounded by hot circumbinary dust.


A very rich interferometric data set in six spectral channels was acquired of IRAS 08544-4431 with the new RAPID camera on the PIONIER beam combiner at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). A broadband image in the H-band was reconstructed by combining the data of all spectral channels using the SPARCO method.


We spatially separate all the building blocks of the IRAS 08544-4431 system in our milliarcsecond-resolution image. Our dissection reveals a dust sublimation front that is strikingly similar to that expected in early-stage protoplanetary disks, as well as an unexpected flux signal of ~4% from the secondary star. The energy output from this companion indicates the presence of a compact circum-companion accretion disk, which is likely the origin of the fast outflow detected in Hα.


Our image provides the most detailed view into the heart of a dusty circumstellar disk to date. Our results demonstrate that binary evolution processes and circumstellar disk evolution can be studied in detail in space and over time.

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