Visible and near-infrared spectro-interferometric analysis of the edge-on Be star o Aquarii Article - Avril 2020

E. S. G. de Almeida, A. Meilland, A. Domiciano de Souza, P. Stee, D. Mourard, N. Nardetto, R. Ligi, I. Tallon-Bosc, D. Faes, A. Carciofi, D. Bednarski, B. Mota, N. Turner, T. ten Brummelaar

E. S. G. de Almeida, A. Meilland, A. Domiciano de Souza, P. Stee, D. Mourard, N. Nardetto, R. Ligi, I. Tallon-Bosc, D. Faes, A. Carciofi, D. Bednarski, B. Mota, N. Turner, T. ten Brummelaar, « Visible and near-infrared spectro-interferometric analysis of the edge-on Be star o Aquarii  », Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, avril 2020, A110. ISSN 0004-6361

Abstract

Aims. We present a detailed visible and near-infrared spectro-interferometric analysis of the Be-shell star o Aquarii from quasi-contemporaneous CHARA/VEGA and VLTI/AMBER observations. Methods. We analyzed spectro-interferometric data in the Hα (VEGA) and Brγ (AMBER) lines using models of increasing complexity : simple geometric models, kinematic models, and radiative transfer models computed with the 3D non-LTE code HDUST. Results. We measured the stellar radius of o Aquarii in the visible with a precision of 8% : 4.0 ± 0.3 R⊙. We constrained the circumstellar disk geometry and kinematics using a kinematic model and a MCMC fitting procedure. The emitting disk sizes in the Hα and Brγ lines were found to be similar, at 10–12 stellar diameters, which is uncommon since most results for Be stars indicate a larger extension in Hα than in Brγ. We found that the inclination angle i derived from Hα is significantly lower ( 15°) than the one derived from Brγ : i 61.2° and 75.9°, respectively. While the two lines originate from a similar region of the disk, the disk kinematics were found to be near to the Keplerian rotation (i.e., β = −0.5) in Brγ (β −0.43), but not in Hα (β −0.30). After analyzing all our data using a grid of HDUST models (BeAtlas), we found a common physical description for the circumstellar disk in both lines : a base disk surface density Σ0 = 0.12 g cm−2 and a radial density law exponent m = 3.0. The same kind of discrepancy, as with the kinematic model, is found in the determination of i using the BeAtlas grid. The stellar rotational rate was found to be very close ( 96%) to the critical value. Despite being derived purely from the fit to interferometric data, our best-fit HDUST model provides a very reasonable match to non-interferometric observables of o Aquarii : the observed spectral energy distribution, Hα and Brγ line profiles, and polarimetric quantities. Finally, our analysis of multi-epoch Hα profiles and imaging polarimetry indicates that the disk structure has been (globally) stable for at least 20 yr. Conclusions. Looking at the visible continuum and Brγ emission line only, o Aquarii fits in the global scheme of Be stars and their circumstellar disk : a (nearly) Keplerian rotating disk well described by the viscous decretion disk (VDD) model. However, the data in the Hα line shows a substantially different picture that cannot fully be understood using the current generation of physical models of Be star disks. The Be star o Aquarii presents a stable disk (close to the steady-state), but, as in previous analyses, the measured m is lower than the standard value in the VDD model for the steady-state regime (m = 3.5). This suggests that some assumptions of this model should be reconsidered. Also, such long-term disk stability could be understood in terms of the high rotational rate that we measured for this star, the rate being a main source for the mass injection in the disk. Our results on the stellar rotation and disk stability are consistent with results in the literature showing that late-type Be stars are more likely to be fast rotators and have stable disks.

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