Photometric observations of the radio bright B[e]/X-ray binary CI Cam

J. S. Clark, University of Sussex
A. S. Miroshnichenko, Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences
V. M. Larionov, Saint Petersburg State University
V. M. Lyuty, Lomonosov Moscow State University
R. I. Hynes, University of Southampton
G. G. Pooley, Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory
M. J. Coe, University of Southampton
M. McCollough, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
S. Dieters, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Yu S. Efimov, Crimean Astrophysical Observatory RAS
J. Fabregat, Universitat de València
V. P. Goranskii, Lomonosov Moscow State University
C. A. Haswell, The Open University
N. V. Metlova, Lomonosov Moscow State University
E. L. Robinson, The University of Texas at Austin
P. Roche, NSSC
V. I. Shenavrin, Lomonosov Moscow State University
W. F. Welsh, The University of Texas at Austin


We present multiwavelength (optical, IR, radio) observations of CI Cam, the optical counterpart to the transient X-ray source XTE J0421+560. Pre-outburst quiescent observations reveal the presence of a dusty envelope around the system. Pronounced short term variability is observed at all wavebands from U-K, but no indication of prior flaring of a similar magnitude to the 1998 April outburst is found in these data. Data obtained during the 1998 April X-ray flare reveal pronounced optical-radio flaring. The optical flux was observed to quickly return to quiescent levels, while the radio flare was of much longer duration. The optical component is likely to result from a combination of free-free/free-bound emission, emission line and thermal dust emission, caused by re-radiation of the X-ray flux, while the behaviour of the multiwavelength radio data is consistent with emission from expanding ejecta emitting via the synchrotron mechanism. Post-outburst (1998 August-1999 March) U-M broadband photometric observations reveal that while the optical (UBV) flux remains at pre-outburst quiescent levels, near IR (JHKLM) fluxes exceed the pre-outburst fluxes by ∼0.5 magnitudes. Modelling the pre- and post-outburst spectral energy distribution of CI Cam reveals that the structure and/or composition of the dusty component of the circumstellar envelope appears to have changed. Due to a lack of information on the precise chemical composition of the dust within the system several explanations for this behaviour are possible, such as the production of new dust at the inner edge of the envelope, or modification of the composition of the dust due to X-ray irradiation.