Direct imaging of the ζ Cnc system has resolved the fourth star in the system, which is in orbit around ζ Cnc C. The presence of the fourth star has been inferred for many years from irregularities in the motion of star C and recently from C's spectroscopic orbit. However, its mass is close to that of C, making its nondetection puzzling. Observing at wavelengths of 1.2, 1.7, and 2.2 μm with the adaptive optics system of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, we have obtained images which very clearly reveal star D and show it to have the color of an M2 star. Its brightness is consonant with its being two M stars, which are not resolved in our observations but are likely to be in a short-period orbit, thereby accounting for the large mass and the difficulty of detection at optical wavelengths, where the magnitude difference is much larger. The positions and colors of all four stars in the system are reported and are consistent with the most recent astrometric observations.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
- Pub Date:
- June 2000
- Stars: Binaries: Visual;
- Stars: Fundamental Parameters;
- stars: individual (ζ Cancri);
- 7 pages including 3 tables, 1 figure