Establishing α oph as a prototype rotator: Improved astrometric orbit

Sasha Hinkley*, John D. Monnier, Ben R. Oppenheimer, Lewis C. Roberts, Michael Ireland, Neil Zimmerman, Douglas Brenner, Ian R. Parry, Frantz Martinache, Olivier Lai, Ŕemi Soummer, Anand Sivaramakrishnan, Charles Beichman, Lynne Hillenbrand, Ming Zhao, James P. Lloyd, David Bernat, Gautam Vasisht, Justin R. Crepp, Laurent PueyoMichael Shao, Marshall D. Perrin, David L. King, Antonin Bouchez, Jennifer E. Roberts, Richard Dekany, Rick Burruss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The nearby star a Oph (Ras Alhague) is a rapidly rotating A5IV star spinning at ∼ 89% of its breakup velocity. This system has been imaged extensively by interferometric techniques, giving a precise geometric model of the star's oblateness and the resulting temperature variation on the stellar surface. Fortuitously, α Oph has a previously known stellar companion, and characterization of the orbit provides an independent, dynamically based check of both the host star and the companion mass. Such measurements are crucial to constrain models of such rapidly rotating stars. In this study, we combine eight years of adaptive optics imaging data from the Palomar, AEOS, and CFHT telescopes to derive an improved, astrometric characterization of the companion orbit. We also use photometry from these observations to derive a model-based estimate of the companion mass. A fit was performed on the photocenter motion of this system to extract a component mass ratio. We find masses of 2.40 +0.23 -0.37 M⊙ and 0.85+0.06 -0.04 M⊙ for a Oph A and a Oph B, respectively. Previous orbital studies of this system found a mass too high for this system, inconsistent with stellar evolutionary calculations. Our measurements of the host star mass are more consistent with these evolutionary calculations, but with slightly higher uncertainties. In addition to the dynamically derived masses, we use IJHK photometry to derive a model-based mass for a Oph B, of 0.77 ± 0.05 M⊙ marginally consistent with the dynamical masses derived from our orbit. Our model fits predict a periastron passage on 2012 April 19, with the two components having a 50 mas separation from 2012 March toMay. A modest amount of interferometric and radial velocity data during this period could provide a mass determination of this star at the few percent level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Stars: individual (HIP86032)
  • Techniques: image processing

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