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Astron. Astrophys. 336, 648-653 (1998)

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5. Conclusion

High angular resolution images of the Red Rectangle nebula have been obtained in the near infrared K, L', M bands and in the unidentified infrared (UIR) emission feature at 3.3 µm. These images show, for the first time at these wavelengths, that the spikes or brightness enhancements are present very close to the core of the system. All images are slightly elongated along a nearly north-south direction and generally have a similar aspect. The K image presents a symmetrical aspect while the L' and M images are less north-south extended. The 3.3 µm UIR image is more elongated than the K, L' and M images. The core of the nebula is partially resolved in K and at 3.3 µm. No binary structure is present in our data.

Our results confirm earlier near-infrared observations and are consistent with a model of the nebula in which a central star is surrounded by a compact and thick equatorial disk of dust with evacuated polar regions. The disk is probably a long-lived disk, slightly tilted away from the line of sight, with large grains as proposed by Jura et al. (1995, 1997). We suggest that large grains are also present in bipolar outflow regions. However, it is clear that a detailed interpretation requires high angular resolution observations as well as a consistent treatment of radiative transfer.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: July 20, 1998