Dusty ring nebulae around new candidate Luminous Blue Variables

Clark, J. S.; Egan, M. P.; Crowther, P. A.; Mizuno, D. R.; Larionov, V. M. and Arkharov, A. (2003). Dusty ring nebulae around new candidate Luminous Blue Variables. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 412(1) pp. 185–198.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031372

Abstract

We report on the discovery of a further two ring nebulae in the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) Galactic Plane Survey; G24.73+0.69 and G26.47+0.02. Morphologically, both appear similar to the nebulae found around the Luminous Blue Variable (LBV) candidates G79.29+0.46 and Wra 17-96. A central, unresolved point source was identified in both cases-positional coincidence with the star StRS 237 was found for G26.47+0.02, while no optical counterpart could be identified for G24.73+0.69. However, subsequent near IR broadband imaging of the G24.73+0.69 field identified a very red-(J- K)~ 2 mag-stellar counterpart to the central object. Near-IR spectroscopy of both objects reveal rich emission line spectra dominated by H I, He I and low excitation metals, suggesting classification as luminous B supergiants and revealing a striking superficial similarity to the other MSX ring sources and known LBVs. We utilised a NLTE model atomsphere code to model the K band spectra and near-IR spectral energy distributions of the central stars in order to determine their physical parameters. Adopting a distance, d=5.2 kpc to G24.73+0.69 yields a temperature, T=12 kK, luminosity, log (L/L)=5.6 and mass loss rate, Ṁ=1x10-5 M yr-1. G26.47+0.02 appears to be a more extreme object; adopting d=6.5 kpc results in T=17 kK, log (L/L)=6.0 and Ṁ=9x10-5 M yr-1, placing it at the Humphreys-Davidson limit for massive stellar objects. Analysis of the spatially resolved mid-IR fluxes of both objects reveal extended periods of enhanced mass loss, resulting in comparatively low mass nebulae, with chemistries dominated by O-rich dust (with a population of small Fe grains existing co-spatially with the silicate dust). Comparison to the other MSX ring nebulae sources reveals a homogeneous group of objects, with both stellar and nebular properties consistent with known LBVs. With both spectroscopic and/or photometric variability observed for those sources with multiepoch observations, we propose a close affinity between both classes of object and suggest that long term monitoring of the MSX sources will reveal them to be bona fide LBVs.

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