The keck aperture masking experiment: Multiwavelength observations of six Mira variables

H. C. Woodruff*, P. G. Tuthill, J. D. Monnier, M. J. Ireland, T. R. Bedding, S. Lacour, W. C. Danchi, M. Scholz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The angular diameters of six oxygen-rich Mira-type long-period variables have been measured at various NIR wavelengths using the aperture-masking technique in an extensive observing program from 1997 January to 2004 September. These data sets span many pulsation cycles of the observed objects and represent the largest study of multiwavelength, multiepoch interferometric angular diameter measurements on Mira stars to date. The calibrated visibility data of o Cet, R Leo, R Cas, W Hya, χ Cyg, and R Hya are fitted using a uniform disk brightness distribution model to facilitate comparison between epochs, wavelengths, and with existing data and theoretical models. The variation of angular diameter as a function of wavelength and time is studied, and cyclic diameter variations are detected for all objects in our sample. These variations are believed to stem from time-dependent changes of density and temperature (and hence varying molecular opacities) in different layers of these stars. The similarities and differences in behavior between these objects are analyzed and discussed in the context of existing theoretical models. Furthermore, we present time-dependent 3.08 μm angular diameter measurements, probing for the first time these zones of probable dust formation, which show unforeseen sizes and are consistently out of phase with other NIR layers shown in this study. The S-type Mira χ Cyg exhibits significantly different behavior compared to the M-type Mira variables in this study, in both its NIR light curves and its diameter pulsation signature. Our data show that the NIR diameters predicted by current models are too small and need to incorporate additional and/or enhanced opacity mechanisms. Also, new tailored models are needed to explain the behavior of the S-type Mira χ Cyg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-433
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Instrumentation: interferometers
  • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • Stars: fundamental parameters
  • Stars: individual (Mira, R Hya, Chi Cyg, W Hya, R Leo, R Cas)
  • Stars: late-type
  • Techniques: interferometric


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