University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Thursday, October 11th 2018
Speaker: Andrew Helton (SOFIA)
Subject: Understanding the long-term variability of the dusty, symbiotic Mira variable star, R Aquarii

R Aquarii (R Aqr) is a nearby symbiotic system composed of a Mira
variable star and a hot white dwarf (WD). The pulsation period of R Aqr is
387 days. Of particular interest to us, however, is a peculiar suppression
of the pulsation amplitude that occurs on roughly 44 year timescales.
These events correlate with the periastron passage of the WD, the next of
which is expected to begin sometime prior to 2020. In this talk I will
present recent efforts to monitor and analyze the mid-IR properties of
this dusty system leading up to the next periastron passage of the WD,
with particular emphasis on mass loss and dust production.

At the end of the talk, I will give a brief update on activities at the
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). I will discuss
some interesting recent science results, provide information on how to get
instant access to publicly available data sets, and talk about future
opportunities with the Observatory.

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