The highly eccentric Be binary system ¿ Sco reached periastron during early 2011 July, when the distance between the primary and secondary was a few times the size of the primary disk in the H band. This opened a window of opportunity to study how the gaseous disks around Be stars respond to gravitational disturbance. We first refine the binary parameters with the best orbital phase coverage data from the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer. Then we present the first imaging results of the disk after the periastron, based on seven nights of five telescope observations with the MIRC combiner at the CHARA array. We found that the disk was inclined 27fdg6 ± 6fdg0 from the plane of the sky, had a half-light radius of 0.49 mas (2.2 stellar radii), and consistently contributed 71.4% ± 2.7% of the total flux in the H band from night to night, suggesting no ongoing transfer of material into the disk during the periastron. The new estimation of the periastron passage is UT 2011 July 3 07:00 ± 4:30. Re-analysis of archival VLTI-AMBER interferometry data allowed us to determine the rotation direction of the primary disk, constraining it to be inclined either ~119° or ~171° relative to the orbital plane of the binary system. We also detect inner disk asymmetries that could be explained by spot-like emission with a few percent of the disk total flux moving in Keplerian orbits, although we lack sufficient angular resolution to be sure of this interpretation and cannot yet rule out spiral density waves or other more complicated geometries.
|Journal||The Astrophysical Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Sep 2012|