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Resolving Decades of Periodic Spirals from the Wolf-Rayet Dust Factory WR 112

Presentation #116.04 in the session “Stellar Atmospheres and Winds”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Resolving Decades of Periodic Spirals from the Wolf-Rayet Dust Factory WR 112

WR 112 is a dust-forming carbon-rich Wolf-Rayet (WC) binary with a dusty circumstellar nebula that exhibits a complex asymmetric morphology, which traces the orbital motion and dust formation in the colliding winds of the central binary. Unraveling the complicated circumstellar dust emission around WR 112 therefore provides an opportunity to understand the dust formation process in colliding-wind WC binaries. In this talk, I will present a multi-epoch analysis of the circumstellar dust around WR 112 using seven high spatial resolution thermal infrared (IR) imaging observations spanning almost 20 years and includes newly obtained images from Subaru/COMICS in Oct 2019. In contrast to previous interpretations of a face-on spiral morphology, we observe clear evidence of proper motion of the circumstellar dust around WR 112 consistent with a nearly edge-on spiral with a 55 degree half-opening angle and a ~20-yr period. The revised near edge-on geometry of WR 112 reconciles previous observations of highly variable non-thermal radio emission that was inconsistent with a face-on geometry. We estimate a revised distance to WR 112 of d = 3.39 (+0.89,-0.84) kpc based on the observed dust expansion rate and a spectroscopically derived WC terminal wind velocity of 1230 ± 260 km/s. With the newly derived WR 112 parameters we fit optically-thin dust spectral energy distribution models and determine a dust production rate of 2.7 (+1.0,-1.3) * 10-6 MSun yr-1, which demonstrates that WR 112 is one of the most prolific dust-making WC systems known.

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