A silicate disk in the heart of the Ant

O. Chesneau, F. Lykou, B. Balick, E. Lagadec, M. Matsuura, N. Smith, A. Spang, S. Wolf, A. A. Zijlstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Aims. We aim at getting high spatial resolution information on the dusty core of bipolar planetary nebulae to directly constrain the shaping process. Methods. We present observations of the dusty core of the extreme bipolar planetary nebula Menzel 3 (Mz 3, Hen 2-154, the Ant) taken with the mid-infrared interferometer MIDI/VLTI and the adaptive optics NACO/VLT. Results. The core of Mz 3 is clearly resolved with MIDI in the interferometric mode, whereas it is unresolved from the Ks to the N bands with single dish 8.2 m observations on a scale ranging from 60 to 250 mas. A striking dependence of the dust core size with the PA angle of the baselines is observed, that is highly suggestive of an edge-on disk whose major axis is perpendicular to the axis of the bipolar lobes. The MIDI spectrum and the visibilities of Mz 3 exhibit a clear signature of amorphous silicate, in contrast to the signatures of crystalline silicates detected in binary post-AGB systems, suggesting that the disk might be relatively young. We used radiative-transfer Monte Carlo simulations of a passive disk to constrain its geometrical and physical parameters. Its inclination (74° ± 3°) and position angle (5° ± 5°) are in accordance with the values derived from the study of the lobes. The inner radius is 9 ±1 AU and the disk is relatively flat. The dust mass stored in the disk, estimated as 1 × 10-5 M , represents only a small fraction of the dust mass found in the lobes and might be a kind of relic of an essentially polar ejection process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L29-L32
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Planetary nebulae: individual: Mz 3
  • Stars: circumstellar matter
  • Stars: mass-loss
  • Techniques: high angular resolution
  • Techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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