Detection of non-radial pulsation and faint companion in the symbiotic star CH Cyg

E. Pedretti, J. D. Monnier, S. Lacour, W. A. Traub, W. C. Danchi, P. G. Tuthill, N. D. Thureau, R. Millan-Gabet, J.-P. Berger, M. G. Lacasse, P. A. Schuller, F. P. Schloerb, N. P. Carleton

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8 Citations (Scopus)


We have detected asymmetry in the symbiotic star CH Cyg through the measurement of precision closure phase with the Integrated Optics Near-Infrared Camera (IONIC) beam combiner, at the infrared optical telescope array interferometer. The position of the asymmetry changes with time and is correlated with the phase of the 2.1-year period found in the radial velocity measurements for this star. We can model the time-dependent asymmetry either as the orbit of a low-mass companion around the M giant or as an asymmetric, 20 per cent change in brightness across the M giant. We do not detect a change in the size of the star during a 3-year monitoring period neither with respect to time nor with respect to wavelength. We find a spherical dust shell with an emission size of 2.2 +/- 0.1 D* full width at half-maximum around the M giant star. The star to dust flux ratio is estimated to be 11.63 +/-0.3. While the most likely explanation for the 20 per cent change in brightness is non-radial pulsation, we argue that a low-mass companion in close orbit could be the physical cause of the pulsation. The combined effect of pulsation and low-mass companion could explain the behaviour revealed by the radial velocity curves and the time-dependent asymmetry detected in the closure-phase data. If CH Cyg is a typical long secondary period variable then these variations could be explained by the effect of an orbiting low-mass companion on the primary star.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-334
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009


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