Aims: Eclipses and occultations of post-AGB stars provide a powerful method of exploring the near-stellar environment, including close companions and circumstellar debris disks. Only six eclipsing systems and one dust-occultation system are currently known. New cases are important for our understanding of binary evolution during the AGB mass-loss phase.
Methods: We study the post-AGB central star of the (bipolar) Galactic bulge planetary nebula M 2-29. We have obtained additional HST imaging and SAAO spectroscopy of the object.
Results: The star showed a pronounced, long-lasting occultation with subsequent recovery. The event lasted almost 3 years, with a secondary minimum 9 years later. The photometric behavior of M 2-29 resembles the dust-occultation events seen in NGC 2346, and is modeled as an occultation by a circumbinary disk, where the binary period is 18 yr. Modulation during the decline shows evidence of another companion with a period of 23 days.
Conclusions: M 2-29 is the first eclipsing disk system among post-AGB stars. Close binaries with periods of around 1 month, as found in M 2-29, have been proposed to supply the energy needed to create the tori of bipolar planetary nebulae.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- November 2008
- ISM: planetary nebulae: individual: PN G004.0-03.0;
- stars: AGB and post-AGB;
- planetary nebulae: general;
- 4 pages, 5 figures