A VLBI study of OH masers in a proto-planetary nebula OH 0.9+1.3
Abstract (Summary)This thesis reports the calibration, imaging and analysis of one epoch of VLBA observations of the 1612 MHz OH maser emission from the protoplanetary nebula OH 0.9+1.3. These are the first polarisation VLBI observations of this source and the spatial morphology of the OH emission is resolved on this scale. Proto-planetary nebulae represent the transition phase in the evolution of stars between the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) phase and their emergence as planetary nebulae. A long-standing astronomical question is how the predominantly spherical circumstellar envelopes of AGB stars evolve into the bipolar and axisymmetric structures that are commonly observed in planetary nebula. Proto-planetary nebulae offer a unique opportunity to study this transformation process. The high-resolution VLBI maps produced in this thesis were used to investigate the morphology and kinematics of OH 0.9+1.3 with a view to gaining insight into the development of asymmetries in the circumstellar material. The OH maser emission of OH 0.9+1.3 has a double-peaked profile with one peak blue-shifted and the other red-shifted with respect to the stellar velocity. The total intensity maser maps demonstrate a considerable degree of asymmetry with the blue- and red-shifted emission located in spatially distinct regions of the envelope. The blue-shifted emission is distributed preferentially along an axis at a projected position angle of » 135± ( North through East). The morphology of this source is not consistent with the standard symmetric thin-shell model and an attempt to fit the traditional OH/IR kinematic model of a simple expanding shell to the maser components was found to be unsatisfactory. No definitive evidence of a bipolar outflow was observed either. The high degree of asymmetry observed in the source is consistent with its status as a proto-planetary nebula. The source was imaged in all four Stokes parameters and the fractional linear and circular polarisations of the maser components were derived from the Stokes parameter maps. In all except one of the components the total fractional polarisation was found to be low ( < 15%). The mean fractional linear and circular polarisation were calculated to be 5.54% and 7.11% respectively. The absence of an identifiable Zeeman pair in the Stokes V map prohibited the estimation of the magnetic field in the circumstellar envelope of this source.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2008