Detection of non-radial pulsation and faint companion in the symbiotic star CH Cyg

E. Pedretti, J.~D. Monnier, S. Lacour, W.~A. Traub, W.~C. Danchi, P.~G. Tuthill, N.~D. Thureau, R. Millan-Gabet, J.-P. Berger, M.~G. Lacasse, P.~A. Schuller, F.~P. Schloerb, N.~P. Carleton

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8 Citations (Scopus)


We have detected asymmetry in the symbiotic star CH Cyg through the measurement of precision closure phase with the Integrated Optics Near-Infrared Camera (IONIC) beam combiner, at the infrared optical telescope array interferometer. The position of the asymmetry changes with time and is correlated with the phase of the 2.1-year period found in the radial velocity measurements for this star. We can model the time-dependent asymmetry either as the orbit of a low-mass companion around the M giant or as an asymmetric, 20 per cent change in brightness across the M giant. We do not detect a change in the size of the star during a 3-year monitoring period neither with respect to time nor with respect to wavelength. We find a spherical dust shell with an emission size of 2.2 ± 0.1 D* full width at half-maximum around the M giant star. The star to dust flux ratio is estimated to be 11.63 ± 0.3. While the most likely explanation for the 20 per cent change in brightness is non-radial pulsation, we argue that a low-mass companion in close orbit could be the physical cause of the pulsation. The combined effect of pulsation and low-mass companion could explain the behaviour revealed by the radial velocity curves and the time-dependent asymmetry detected in the closure-phase data. If CH Cyg is a typical long secondary period variable then these variations could be explained by the effect of an orbiting low-mass companion on the primary star.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-334
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2009


  • techniques: high angular resolution , techniques: interferometric , binaries: symbiotic , stars: imaging , stars: individual: CH Cygni


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