The Hidden Clumps in VY CMa Uncovered by ALMA

Roberta M. Humphreys, A. M. S. Richards, Kris Davidson, A. P. Singh, L. Decin, L. M. Ziurys

Research output: Working paperPreprint

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The red hypergiant VY CMa is famous for its very visible record of high mass loss events. Recent CO observations with ALMA revealed three previously unknown large scale outflows (Paper I). In this paper we use the CO maps to investigate the motions of a cluster of four clumps close to the star, not visible in the optical or infrared images. We present their proper motions measured from two epochs of ALMA images and determine the line of sight velocities of the gas in emission at the clumps. We estimate their masses and ages, or time since ejection, and conclude that all four were ejected during VY CMa's active period in the early 20th century. Together with two additional knots observed with HST, VY CMa experienced at least six massive outflows during a 30 year period with a total mass lost greater than 0.07 Msun. The position-velocity map of the $^{12}$CO emission reveals previously unnoticed attributes of the older outer ejecta. In a very narrow range of Doppler velocities, $^{12}$CO absorption and emission causes some of this outer material to be quite opaque. At those frequencies the inner structure is hidden and we see only emission from an extended outer region. This fact produces a conspicuous but illusory dark spot if one attempts to subtract the continuum in a normal way.
Original languageUndefined
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2024


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.GA

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