Milliarcsecond Resolution Infrared Observations of the Recurrent Nova RS Ophiuchi and Low Mass Stellar Systems
Barry, Richard Keith, Jr.
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We introduce the method of long-baseline stellar interferometry starting with the fundamental combination of electric fields. We describe beam combination techniques and how they are realized at the observatories used in the conduct of this research. We subsequently give a mathematical description of the Keck Interferometer Nuller and describe our pathfinder effort to produce the first science with this instrument. We present the results of a 2.5 year observing campaign using four different observatories; the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Infrared and Optical Telescope Array on Mt. Hop- kins, Arizona, the Palomar Testbed Interferometer on Mt. Palomar, California, and the Keck Interferometer on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. We describe our observations of a broad array of low-mass binary stars and the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi in outburst — a candidate Type Ia supernova progenitor. We present calculations that suggest a new paradigm for dust creation in recurrent novae. We explore this paradigm through analysis of line and continuum emission from near peak brightness to quiescence. We report radial velocity and astrometric model fitting on the low-mass M-dwarf binary Gliese 268. We derive masses of the constituent stars with 0.5% uncertainty.