A Caltech Library Service

No expanding fireball: Resolving the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi with infrared interferometry

Monnier, J. D. and Barry, R. K. and Traub, W. A. and Lane, B. F. and Akeson, R. L. and Ragland, S. and Schuller, P. A. and Le Coroller, H. and Berger, J.-P. and Millan-Gabet, R. and Pedretti, E. and Schloerb, F. P. and Koresko, C. and Carleton, N. P. and Lacasse, M. G. and Kern, P. and Malbet, F. and Perraut, K. and Kuchner, M. J. and Muterspaugh, M. W. (2006) No expanding fireball: Resolving the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi with infrared interferometry. Astrophysical Journal, 647 (2). L127-L130. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/507584.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Following the recent outburst of the recurrent nova RS Oph on 2006 February 12, we measured its near-infrared size using the IOTA, Keck, and PTI Interferometers at multiple epochs. The characteristic size of ~3 mas hardly changed over the first 60 days of the outburst, ruling out currently popular models whereby the near-infrared emission arises from hot gas in the expanding shock. The emission was also found to be significantly asymmetric, evidenced by nonzero closure phases detected by IOTA. The physical interpretation of these data depends strongly on the adopted distance to RS Oph. Our data can be interpreted as the first direct detection of the underlying RS Oph binary, lending support to the recent "reborn red giant" models of Hachisu & Kato. However, this result hinges on an RS Oph distance of 540<~ pc, in strong disagreement with the widely adopted distance of ~1.6 kpc. At the farther distance, our observations imply instead the existence of a nonexpanding, dense, and ionized circumbinary gaseous disk or reservoir responsible for the bulk of the near-infrared emission. Longer baseline infrared interferometry is uniquely suited to distinguish between these models and to ultimately determine the distance, binary orbit, and component masses for RS Oph, one of the closest known (candidate) Type 1a supernova progenitor systems.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Monnier, J. D.0000-0002-3380-3307
Akeson, R. L.0000-0001-9674-1564
Berger, J.-P.0000-0001-5025-0428
Millan-Gabet, R.0000-0003-0447-5866
Lacasse, M. G.0000-0001-8627-9708
Kuchner, M. J.0000-0002-2387-5489
Additional Information:© 2006 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 May 22; accepted 2006 July 11; published 2006 August 8. We thank J. Sokoloski for productive discussion and comments on the manuscript and members of the AAVSO IR group for early-time photometry. R. K. B. acknowledges NASA and Dr. Bill Danchi for supporting this work. We acknowledge SAO, NSF, NASA, CNRS/CNES (France), LAOG, IMEP, and LETI for support of IOTA and IONIC3. KI was developed and is operated by JPL, MSC, and WMKO with funding from NASA. PTI was developed by JPL and is operated by the MSC on behalf of the PTI collaboration. This research made use of SIMBAD, ADS, MSC resources, CHARM2, and the 2MASS catalog. Some data presented herein were obtained at the Keck Observatory, operated by a scientific partnership among Caltech, UC, and NASA.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Subject Keywords:infrared: stars—novae, cataclysmic variable stars: individual (RS Ophiuchi)—techniques: interferometric
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:MONapjl06
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:J. D. Monnier et al 2006 ApJ 647 L127
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:5344
Deposited By: Lindsay Cleary
Deposited On:12 Oct 2006
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 20:24

Repository Staff Only: item control page