AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 138 Planetary and Reflection Nebulae and WR Bubbles
Poster, Thursday, January 13, 2005, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[138.06] A Precessing Jet in a Dying Star: Adaptive Optics Imaging of the ``Water-Fountain" Nebula IRAS16342-3814

R. Sahai (JPL/Caltech), D. Le Mignant (W. M. Keck Observatory), C. Sánchez Contreras (Caltech), R.D. Campbell, F.H. Chaffee (W. M. Keck Observatory)

Collimated jets are one of the most intriguing, yet poorly understood phenomena in astrophysics. Jets have been found in a wide variety of object classes which include active galactic nuclei, young stellar objects, massive X-ray binaries, black hole X-ray transients, symbiotic stars, supersoft X-ray sources, and finally, planetary and preplanetary nebulae (PNe & PPNe). In the case of PNe and PPNe, it has been proposed that wobbling collimated jets may be the universal mechanism which can explain a wide variety of bipolar and multipolar morphologies seen in these objects (Sahai 2000, ASP Conf.Ser. 199, 209). The ``Water-Fountain Nebula'', IRAS16342-3814 (IRAS1634) belongs to a class of very young PPNe with high-velocity molecular outflows traced in either or both of radio H2O and OH maser line emission, and are believed to result from the interaction of fast jets with ambient circumstellar material shed by the AGB progenitors of these objects. Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging of IRAS1634 showed a small bipolar nebula, with the lobes separated by a dark equatorial waist (Sahai et al. 1999, ApJ, 514, L115) -- the morphology was interpreted as bubble-like reflection nebulae illuminated by starlight escaping through polar holes in a dense, dusty waist obscuring the central star, with the bubbles created by a fast jet-like outflow plowing into the AGB mass-loss envelope. Here we report Adaptive Optics (AO) observations with the W. M. Keck Observatory at near-infrared wavelengths (in the H, K', L', Ms bands) which probe much deeper into the lobes and reveal a remarkable corkscrew-shaped structure apparently etched into the lobe walls. The corkscrew structure represents the proverbial ``writing on the wall" signature of an underlying precessing jet, and we compare our results with predictions from published numerical simulations of such jets. The results shown provide a dramatic example of the power of ground-based AO imaging with large telescopes to uncover phenomena which are hidden even to the sharp eyes of HST.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: raghvendra.sahai@jpl.nasa.gov

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