We report the direct detection of cyclic diameter variations in the Mira variable χ Cygni. Interferometric observations made between 1997 July and 1998 September, using the Cambridge Optical Aperture Synthesis Telescope (COAST) indicate periodic changes in the apparent angular diameter with amplitude 45 per-cent of the smallest value.
The measurements were made in a 50 nm bandpass centred on 905 nm, which is only moderately contaminated by molecular absorption features. To assess the effects of atmospheric stratification on the apparent diameter measured in this band, we have also measured near-infrared diameters for a sample of five Miras, in both the J-band (1.3 μm) and Wing's (1971) 1.04 μm band, which is expected to isolate essentially pure continuum emission. We present J-band visibility curves which indicate that the intensity profiles of the stars in the sample differ greatly from each other.