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Astron. Astrophys. 357, 255-267 (2000)

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5. Conclusions

The first high spatial resolution adaptive optics near-IR polarization maps of [FORMULA] Carinae and the Homunculus nebula have been presented. Since the Homunculus is dominated by scattering then the appearance in the near-IR is rather similar to that observed in the optical and a comparison of the AO results with an HST 1.04 µm WFPC2 image was presented showing essentially the same features. The most important single result from this work is the overall similarity of the linear polarization from the V band to 2.2 µm within a few percent for the SE lobe and the lower values at J and H compared with V for the NW lobe. Image restoration was applied to a set of 2.15 µm continuum images to determine the polarization distribution in the near vicinity of [FORMULA] Carinae. A tentative value of the polarization of the Weigelt et al. speckle knot D of 18% was determined suggesting that it is a dust cloud within the equatorial disc strongly illuminated by [FORMULA] Carinae. Various models are discussed in order to explain the flat distribution of polarization with wavelength over the Homunculus. A possible association of a narrow feature within the NW lobe of the Homunculus with one of the highly collimated emission line `whiskers' outside the nebula deserves further investigation.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: May 3, 2000