Gaia18aen: First symbiotic star discovered by Gaia

Merc, J.; Mikołajewska, J.; Gromadzki, M.; Gałan, C.; Iłkiewicz, K.; Skowron, J.; Wyrzykowski, Ł.; Hodgkin, S. T.; Rybicki, K. A.; Zieliński, P.; Kruszyńska, K.; Godunova, V.; Simon, A.; Reshetnyk, V.; Lewis, F.; Kolb, U.; Morrell, M.; Norton, A. J.; Awiphan, S.; Poshyachinda, S.; Reichart, D. E.; Greet, M. and Kolgjini, J. (2020). Gaia18aen: First symbiotic star discovered by Gaia. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 644, article no. A49.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202039132

Abstract

Context. Besides the astrometric mission of the Gaia satellite, its repeated and high-precision measurements also serve as an all-sky photometric transient survey. The sudden brightenings of the sources are published as Gaia Photometric Science Alerts and are made publicly available, allowing the community to photometrically and spectroscopically follow up on the object.

Aims. The goal of this paper is to analyze the nature and derive the basic parameters of Gaia18aen, a transient detected at the beginning of 2018. This object coincides with the position of the emission-line star WRAY 15-136. The brightening was classified as a “nova?” on the basis of a subsequent spectroscopic observation.

Methods. We analyzed two spectra of Gaia18aen and collected the available photometry of the object covering the brightenings in 2018 and also the preceding and following periods of quiescence. Based on this observational data, we derived the parameters of Gaia18aen and discussed the nature of the object.

Results. Gaia18aen is the first symbiotic star discovered by Gaia satellite. The system is an S-type symbiotic star and consists of an M giant of a slightly super-solar metallicity, where Teff ∼ 3500 K, a radius of ∼230 R, and a high luminosity L ∼ 7400 L. The hot component is a hot white dwarf. We tentatively determined the orbital period of the system ∼487 d. The main outburst of Gaia18aen in 2018 was accompanied by a decrease in the temperature of the hot component. The first phase of the outburst was characterized by the high luminosity L ∼ 27 000 L, which remained constant for about three weeks after the optical maximum, later followed by the gradual decline of luminosity and increase of temperature. Several re-brightenings have been detected on the timescales of hundreds of days.

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