Visual/infrared interferometry of Orion Trapezium stars: Preliminary dynamical orbit and aperture synthesis imaging of the Theta 1 Orionis C system

Kraus, S., Balega, Y.Y., Berger, J.-P., Hofmann, K.-H., Millan-Gabet, R., Monnier, J.D., Ohnaka, K., Pedretti, E., Preibisch, Th., Schertl, D., Schloerb, F.P., Traub, W.A. , Weigelt, G.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, 466, pp.649-659 (2007)


Located in the Orion Trapezium cluster, Theta 1 Orionis C is one of the youngest and nearest high-mass stars (O5-O7) and also known to be a close binary system. Using new multi-epoch visual and near-infrared bispectrum speckle interferometric observations obtained at the BTA 6 m telescope, and IOTA near-infrared long-baseline interferometry, we trace the orbital motion of the Theta 1 Ori C components over the interval 1997.8 to 2005.9, covering a significant arc of the orbit. Besides fitting the relative position and the flux ratio, we apply aperture synthesis techniques to our IOTA data to reconstruct a model-independent image of the Theta 1 Ori C binary system. The orbital solutions suggest a high eccentricity (e approx. 0.91) and short-period (P approx. 10.9 yrs) orbit. As the current astrometric data only allows rather weak constraints on the total dynamical mass, we present the two best-fit orbits. From these orbital solutions one can be favoured, implying a system mass of 48 M and a distance to the Trapezium cluster of 434 pc. When also taking the measured flux ratio and the derived location in the HR-diagram into account, we find good agreement for all observables, assuming a spectral type of O5.5 for Theta 1 Ori C1 (M=34.0 M) and O9.5 for C2 (M=15.5 M). We find indications that the companion C2 is massive itself, which makes it likely that its contribution to the intense UV radiation field of the Trapezium cluster is non-negligible. Furthermore, the high eccentricity of the preliminary orbit solution predicts a very small physical separation during periastron passage (approx. 1.5 AU, next passage around 2007.5), suggesting strong wind-wind interaction between the two O stars.

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