Astronomy and astrophysics vol:314 issue:3 pages:L17-L20
We present new observations of the central binary inside the Red Rectangle nebula. The detection of zinc in the optical spectrum confirms that the peculiar photospheric abundances are due to accretion of circumstellar gas. Grey brightness variations with the orbital period are observed. They are interpreted as being due to the variation of the scattering angle with orbital phase. The small orbital separation of the system is not compatible with previous normal evolution of the primary on the AGB. We point out the similarity of the orbital history of this and other similar systems with those of some close Barium stars and suggest that the nonzero eccentricity of the orbit is the result of tidal interaction with the circumbinary disk.