RW Aur A is a classical T Tauri star, believed to have undergone a reconfiguration of its circumstellar environment as a consequence of a recent flyby of its stellar companion, RW Aur B. This interaction stripped away part of the circumstellar disk of RW Aur A, leaving a tidally disrupted "arm" and a short truncated circumstellar disk. We present photometric observations of the RW Aur system from the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope survey showing a long and deep dimming that occurred from 2010 September until 2011 March. The dimming has a depth of 2 mag, a duration of 180 days, and was confirmed by archival observations from American Association of Variable Star Observers. We suggest that this event is the result of a portion of the tidally disrupted disk occulting RW Aur A, specifically a fragment of the tidally disrupted arm. The calculated transverse linear velocity of the occulter is in excellent agreement with the measured relative radial velocity of the tidally disrupted arm. Using simple kinematic and geometric arguments, we show that the occulter cannot be a feature of the RW Aur A circumstellar disk, and we consider and discount other hypotheses. We also place constraints on the thickness and semimajor axis of the portion of the arm that occulted the star.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science