THA 15−31: Discovery with VLT/X-shooter and Swift/UVOT of a new symbiotic star of the accreting-only variety
We report the discovery and characterization of a new symbiotic star of the accreting-only variety, which we observed in the optical/near-infrared (NIR) with VLT/X-shooter and in the X-rays/ultraviolet with Swift/UVOT+XRT. The new symbiotic star, THA 15−31, was previously described as a pre-main sequence star belonging to the Lupus 3 association. Our observations, ancillary data, and Gaia EDR3 parallax indicate that THA 15−31 is a symbiotic star composed of an M6III red giant and an accreting companion, is subject to EB − V = 0.38 reddening, and is located at a distance of ∼12 kpc and at 1.8 kpc above the Galactic plane in the outskirts of the Bulge. The luminosity of the accreting companion is ∼100 L⊙, placing THA 15−31 among the symbiotic stars accreting at a high rate (2.5 × 10−8 M⊙ yr−1 if the accretion is occurring on a white dwarf of 1 M⊙). The observed emission lines originate primarily from H I, He I, and Fe II, with no He II or other high-excitation lines observed; a sharp central absorption superimposed on the Balmer emission lines is observed, while all other lines have a simple Gaussian-like profile. The emission from the companion dominates over the M6III red giant at U and B-band wavelengths, and is consistent with an origin primarily in an optically thick accretion disk. No significant photometric variability is observed at optical or NIR wavelengths, suggesting either a face-on orbital orientation and/or that the red giant is far from Roche-lobe filling conditions. The profile of emission lines supports a low orbital inclination if they form primarily in the accretion disk. An excess emission is present in AllWISE W3 (12 μm) and W4 (22 μm) data, radiating a luminosity ≥35 L⊙, consistent with thermal emission from optically thin circumstellar dust.