Detection of a far-infrared bow shock nebula around R Hya: The first miriad results

T. Ueta, A. K. Speck, R. E. Stencel, F. Herwig, R. D. Gehrz, R. Szczerba, H. Izumiura, A. A. Zijlstra, W. B. Latter, M. Matsuura, M. Meixner, M. Steffen, M. Elitzur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We present the first results of the MIRIAD (MIPS InfraRed Imaging of AGB Dust shells) project using the Spitzer Space Telescope. The primary aim of the project is to probe the material distribution in the extended circumstellar envelopes (CSEs) of evolved stars and recover the fossil record of their mass-loss history. Hence, we must map the whole of the CSEs plus the surrounding sky for background subtraction while avoiding the central star that is brighter than the detector saturation limit. With our unique mapping strategy, we have achieved better than 1 MJy sr-1 sensitivity in 3 hr of integration and successfully detected a faint (<5 MJy sr-1), extended (∼400″) far-infrared nebula around the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star R Hya. Based on the parabolic structure of the nebula, the direction of the space motion of the star with respect to the nebula shape, and the presence of extended Ha emission cospatial to the nebula, we suggest that the detected far-IR nebula is due to a bow shock at the interface of the interstellar medium and the AGB wind of this moving star. This is the first detection of the stellar-wind bow shock interaction for an AGB star and exemplifies the potential of Spitzer as a tool to examine the detailed structure of extended far-IR nebulae around bright central sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L39-L42
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006


  • Circumstellar matter
  • ISM: structure
  • Infrared: stars
  • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • Stars: individual (R Hydrae)
  • Stars: mass loss


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