Dissecting the central regions of OH 231.8 + 4.2 with ALMA: a salty rotating disk at the base of a young bipolar outflow

Sánchez Contreras, C. ; Alcolea, J. ; Rodríguez Cardoso, R. ; Bujarrabal, V. ; Castro-Carrizo, A. ; Quintana-Lacaci, G. ; Velilla-Prieto, L. ; Santander-García, M. (2020). Dissecting the central regions of OH 231.8 + 4.2 with ALMA: a salty rotating disk at the base of a young bipolar outflow. A&A 665 A88 (2022) https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202243623

We present ALMA continuum and molecular line emission maps at ∼1 mm of OH 231.8, a well studied bipolar nebula around an AGB star. The excellent angular resolution of our maps (∼20 mas) allows us to scrutinise the central nebular regions of OH 231.8, which hold the clues to unravel how this iconic object assembled its complex nebular architecture. We report, for the first time in this object and others of its kind, the discovery of a rotating circumbinary disk selectively traced by NaCl, KCl, and H2O emission lines. This represents the first detection of KCl in an oxygen-rich AGB circumstellar envelope. The rotating disk, of radius ∼30 au, lies at the base of a young bipolar wind traced by SiO and SiS emission, which also presents signs of rotation at its base. The NaCl equatorial structure is characterised by a mean rotation velocity of ∼4 km s−1 and extremely low expansion speeds, ∼3 km s−1. The outflow has a predominantly expansive kinematics characterised by a constant radial velocity gradient of ∼65 km s−1 arcsec−1 at its base. Beyond r∼350 au, the gas in the outflow continues radially flowing at a constant terminal speed of ∼16 km s−1. Our continuum maps reveal a spatially resolved dust disk-like structure perpendicular to the outflow, with the NaCl, KCl and H2O emission arising from the disk’s surface layers. Within the disk, we also identify an unresolved point continuum source, which likely represents the central Mira-type star QX Pup enshrouded by a ∼3 R⋆ component of hot (∼1400 K) freshly formed dust. The point source is slightly off-centered from the disk centroid, enabling us for the first time to place constraints to the orbital separation and period of the central binary system, a∼20 au and Porb∼55 yr, respectively. (abridged).

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