VLBA observations of SiO masers towards Mira variable stars

W. D. Cotton, B. Mennesson, P. J. Diamond, G. Perrin, V. Coudé du Foresto, G. Chagnon, H. J. Van Langevelde, S. Ridgway, R. Waters, W. Vlemmings, S. Morel, W. Traub, N. Carleton, M. Lacasse

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We present new total intensity and linear polarization VLB A observations of the v = 2 and v = 1 J = 1-0 maser transitions of SiO at 42.8 and 43.1 GHz in a number of Mira variable stars over a substantial fraction of their pulsation periods. These observations were part of an observing program that also includes interferometric measurements at 2.2 and 3.6 micron (Mennesson et al. 2002); comparison of the results from different wavelengths allows studying the envelope independently of the poorly known distances to these stars. Nine stars were observed at from one to four epochs during 2001. The SiO emission is largely confined to rings which are smaller than the inner radius of the dust shells reported by Danchi et al. (1994). Two stars (U Orionis, R Aquarii) have maser rings with diameters corresponding to the size of the hot molecular layer as measured at 3.6 micron; in the other cases, the SiO rings are substantially larger. Variations of ring diameter for most, but not all stars, had an rms amplitude in agreement with the models of Humphreys et al. (2002) although the expected relationship between the diameter and pulsation phase was not seen. The ring diameter in U Orionis shows remarkably small variation. A correlation between the 2.2/3.6 μm diameter ratio with that of the SiO/3.6 μm diameter ratio is likely due to differences in the opacities at 2.2 and 3.6 μm in a molecular layer. A further correlation with the inner size of the dust shell reported by Danchi et al. (1994) suggest some differences in the temperature structure. Clear evidence is seen in R Aquarii for an equatorial disk similar to that reported by Hollis et al. (2001); rotation is possibly also detected in S Coronae Boralis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)275-288
    Number of pages13
    JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


    • Radio lines: stars, Masers
    • Star: atmospheres
    • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
    • Stars: variables


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