The Bipolar Reflection Nebula IRC +10216

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Session 51 -- Planetary Nebulae
Display presentation, Thursday, January 13, 9:30-6:45, Salons I/II Room (Crystal Gateway)

[51.14] The Bipolar Reflection Nebula IRC +10216

Joel H. Kastner (MIT Center for Space Research), David A. Weintraub (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University)

We present polarimetric, coronagraphic near-infrared images of the reflection nebula surrounding the carbon star IRC +10216. These images provide an order of magnitude increase in spatial resolution over that of earlier epoch aperture polarimetry observations which established the presence of the nebula. The distribution of scattered light within the inner $\sim10''$ of the circumstellar dust envelope suggests the nebula is bipolar. In unocculted images at J ($1.25 \micron$) and in occulted images at H ($1.65 \micron$) and K ($2.2 \micron$), the nebula appears elongated, with major axis lying at position angle $\sim20\deg$. This position angle of elongation is similar to that previously inferred via near-infrared speckle interferometry for the inner $\sim1''$ of the envelope. The elliptical symmetry of the J polarimetric map offers additional evidence that the envelope is axisymmetric, and indicates that the equatorial plane of IRC +10216 lies perpendicular to the major axis of the nebula. We conclude that our images support a model in which the envelope of IRC +10216 is bipolar, and may place additional constraints on envelope structure and inclination.

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