Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 490, 173-178 (2008/10-4)
Asymmetric silicate dust distribution toward the silicate carbon star BM Geminorum.
OHNAKA K., IZUMIURA H., LEINERT C., DRIEBE T., WEIGELT G. and WITTKOWSKI M.
Abstract (from CDS):
Despite their carbon-rich photospheres, silicate carbon stars show 10 µm silicate emission. They are considered to have circumbinary or circum-companion disks, which serve as a reservoir of oxygen-rich material shed by mass loss in the past. We present N-band spectro-interferometric observations of the silicate carbon star BM Gem using MIDI at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Our aim is to probe the spatial distribution of oxygen-rich dust at high spatial resolution. Using the UT2-UT3 and UT3-UT4 configurations, BM Gem was observed with VLTI/MIDI at 44-62m baselines. The N-band visibilities observed for BM Gem decrease steeply between 8 and ∼10µm and increase gradually longward of ∼10µm, reflecting the optically thin silicate emission feature emanating from sub-micron-sized amorphous silicate grains. The differential phases obtained at baselines of ∼44-46m show significant non-zero values (~-70°) in the central part of the silicate emission feature between ∼9 and 11µm, revealing a photocenter shift and the asymmetric nature of the silicate emitting region. The observed N-band visibilities and differential phases can be described adequately by a simple geometrical model in which the unresolved star is surrounded by a ring with azimuthal brightness modulation. The best-fit model is characterized by a broad ring (∼70mas across at 10µm) with a bright region offset from the unresolved star by ∼20mas at a position angle of ∼280°. This model can be interpreted as a system with a circum-companion disk and is consistent with the spectroscopic signatures of an accretion disk around an unseen companion, which were discovered in the violet spectrum of BM Gem.