611 research outputs found

    Photodissociation of CO in the outflow of evolved stars

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    Context. Ultraviolet (UV) photodissociation of carbon monoxide (CO) controls the abundances and distribution of CO and its photodissociation products. This significantly influences the gas-phase chemistry in the circumstellar material around evolved stars. A better understanding of CO photodissociation in outflows also provides a more precise estimate of mass-loss rates. Aims. We aim to update the CO photodissociation rate in an expanding spherical envelope assuming that the interstellar radiation field (ISRF) photons penetrate through the envelope. This will allow us to precisely estimate the CO abundance distributions in circumstellar envelope around evolved stars. Methods. We used the most recent CO spectroscopic data to precisely calculate the depth dependency of the photodissociation rate of each CO dissociating line. We calculated the CO self- and mutual-shielding functions in an expanding envelope. We investigated the dependence of the CO profile on the five fundamental parameters mass-loss rate, the expansion velocity, the CO initial abundance, the CO excitation temperature, and the strength of the ISRF. Results. Our derived CO envelope size is smaller than the commonly used radius derived by Mamon et al. 1988. The difference between results varies from 1% to 39% and depends on the H2 and CO densities of the envelope. We list two fitting parameters for a large grid of models to estimate the CO abundance distribution. We demonstrate that the CO envelope size can differ between outflows with the same effective content of CO, but different CO abundance, mass-loss rate, and the expansion velocity as a consequence of differing amounts of shielding by H2 and CO. Conclusions. Our study is based on a large grid of models employing an updated treatment of the CO photodissociation, and in it we find that the abundance of CO close to the star and the outflow density both can have a significant effect on the size of the molecular envelope. We also demonstrate that modest variations in the ISRF can cause measurable differences in the envelope extent

    Multiple components in the molecular outflow of the red supergiant NML Cyg

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    Despite their large impact on stellar and galactic evolution, the properties of outflows from red supergiants are not well characterized. We used the Onsala 20m telescope to perform a spectral survey at 3 and 4mm (68-116 GHz) of the red supergiant NML Cyg, alongside the yellow hypergiant IRC + 10420. Our observations of NML Cyg were combined with complementary archival data to enable a search for signatures of morphological complexity in the circumstellar environment, using emission lines from 15 molecular species. The recovered parameters imply the presence of three distinct, coherent, and persistent components, comprised of blue-shifted and red-shifted components, in addition to an underlying outflow centred at the stellar systemic velocity. Furthermore, to reproduce (CO)-C-12 emission with 3D radiative transfer models required a spherical outflow with three superposed conical outflows, one towards and one away from the observer, and one in the plane of the sky. These components are higher in density than the spherical outflow by up to an order of magnitude. We hence propose that NML Cyg\u27s circumstellar environment consists of a small number of high-density large-scale coherent outflows embedded in a spherical wind. This would make the mass-loss history similar to that of VY CMa, and distinct from mu Cep, where the outflow contains many randomly distributed smaller clumps. A possible correlation between stellar properties, outflow structures, and content is critical in understanding the evolution of massive stars and their environmental impact

    High-resolution observations of gas and dust around Mira using ALMA and SPHERE/ZIMPOL

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    The outflows of oxygen-rich asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars are thought to be driven by radiation pressure due to the scattering of photons on relatively large grains, with sizes of tenths of microns. The details of the formation of dust in the extended atmospheres of these stars and, therefore, the mass-loss process, is still not well understood. Aims. We aim to constrain the distribution of the gas and the composition and properties of the dust grains that form in the inner circumstellar environment of the archetypal Mira variable o Cet. Methods. We obtained quasi-simultaneous observations using ALMA and SPHERE/ZIMPOL on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to probe the distribution of gas and large dust grains, respectively. Results. The polarized light images show dust grains around Mira A, but also around the companion, Mira B, and a dust trail that connects the two sources. The ALMA observations show that dust around Mira A is contained in a high-gas-density region with a significant fraction of the grains that produce the polarized light located at the edge of this region. Hydrodynamical and wind-driving models show that dust grains form efficiently behind shock fronts caused by stellar pulsation or convective motions. The distance at which we observe the density decline (a few tens of au) is, however, significantly larger than expected for stellar-pulsation-induced shocks. Other possibilities for creating the high-gas-density region are a recent change in the mass-loss rate of Mira A or interactions with Mira B. We are not able to determine which of these scenarios is correct. We constrained the gas density, temperature, and velocity within a few stellar radii from the star by modelling the CO v = 1, J = 3-2 line. We find a mass (~3.8 \ub1 1.3) 7 104 M to be contained between the stellar millimetre photosphere, R338 GHz, and 4 R338 GHz. Our best-fit models with lower masses also reproduce the 13CO v = 0, J = 3-2 line emission from this region well. We find TiO2 and AlO abundances corresponding to 4.5% and <0.1% of the total titanium and aluminium expected for a gas with solar composition. The low abundance of AlO allows for a scenario in which Al depletion into dust happens already very close to the star, as expected from thermal dust emission observations and theoretical calculations of Mira variables. The relatively large abundance of aluminium for a gas with solar composition allows us to constrain the presence of aluminium oxide grains based on the scattered light observations and on the gas densities we obtain. These models imply that aluminium oxide grains could account for a significant fraction of the total aluminium atoms in this region only if the grains have sizes 0.02 μm. This is an order of magnitude smaller than the maximum sizes predicted by dust-formation and wind-driving models. Conclusions. The study we present highlights the importance of coordinated observations using different instruments to advance our understanding of dust nucleation, dust growth, and wind driving in AGB stars

    A detailed view of the gas shell around R Sculptoris with ALMA

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    Context. During the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) phase, stars undergo thermal pulses - short-lived phases of explosive helium burning in a shell around the stellar core. Thermal pulses lead to the formation and mixing-up of new elements to the stellar surface. They are hence fundamental to the chemical evolution of the star and its circumstellar envelope. A further consequence of thermal pulses is the formation of detached shells of gas and dust around the star, several of which have been observed around carbon-rich AGB stars. Aims. We aim to determine the physical properties of the detached gas shell around R Sculptoris, in particular the shell mass and temperature, and to constrain the evolution of the mass-loss rate during and after a thermal pulse. Methods. We analyse 12CO(1-0), 12CO(2-1), and 12CO(3-2) emission, observed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) during Cycle 0 and complemented by single-dish observations. The spatial resolution of the ALMA data allows us to separate the detached shell emission from the extended emission inside the shell. We perform radiative transfer modelling of both components to determine the shell properties and the post-pulse mass-loss properties. Results. The ALMA data show a gas shell with a radius of 19″.5 expanding at 14.3 km s-1. The different scales probed by the ALMA Cycle 0 array show that the shell must be entirely filled with gas, contrary to the idea of a detached shell. The comparison to single-dish spectra and radiative transfer modelling confirms this. We derive a shell mass of 4.5 × 10-3 M⊙ with a temperature of 50 K. Typical timescales for thermal pulses imply a pulse mass-loss rate of 2.3 × 10-5 M⊙ yr-1. For the post-pulse mass-loss rate, we find evidence for a gradual decline of the mass-loss rate, with an average value of 1.6 × 10-5 M⊙ yr-1. The total amount of mass lost since the last thermal pulse is 0.03 M⊙, a factor four higher compared to classical models, with a sharp decline in mass-loss rate immediately after the pulse. Conclusions. We find that the mass-loss rate after a thermal pulse has to decline more slowly than generally expected from models of thermal pulses. This may cause the star to lose significantly more mass during a thermal pulse cycle, which affects the lifetime on the AGB and the chemical evolution of the star, its circumstellar envelope, and the interstellar medium

    Molecular line study of the S-type AGB star W Aquilae. ALMA observations of CS, SiS, SiO and HCN

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    Context. With the outstanding spatial resolution and sensitivity of the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA), molecular gas other than the abundant CO can be observed and resolved in circumstellar envelopes (CSEs) around evolved stars, such as the binary S-type Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) star W Aquilae. Aims. We aim to constrain the chemical composition of the CSE and determine the radial abundance distribution, the photospheric peak abundance, and isotopic ratios of a selection of chemically important molecular species in the innermost CSE of W Aql. The derived parameters are put into the context of the chemical evolution of AGB stars and are compared with theoretical models. Methods. We employ one-dimensional radiative transfer modeling - with the accelerated lambda iteration (ALI) radiative transfer code - of the radial abundance distribution of a total of five molecular species (CS, SiS, 30SiS, 29SiO and H13CN) and determine the best fitting model parameters based on high-resolution ALMA observations as well as archival single-dish observations. The additional advantage of the spatially resolved ALMA observations is that we can directly constrain the radial profile of the observed line transitions from the observations. Results. We derive abundances and e-folding radii for CS, SiS, 30SiS, 29SiO and H13CN and compare them to previous studies, which are based only on unresolved single-dish spectra. Our results are in line with previous results and are more accurate due to resolution of the emission regions

    The extended molecular envelope of the asymptotic giant branch star π1 Gruis as seen by ALMA II. The spiral-outflow observed at high-angular resolution

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    Context. This study is a follow up to the previous analysis of lower-angular resolution data in which the kinematics and structure of the circumstellar envelope (CSE) around the S-type asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star pi(1) Gruis were investigated. The AGB star has a known companion (at a separation of 400 AU) that cannot explain the strong deviations from spherical symmetry of the CSE. Recently, hydrodynamic simulations of mass transfer in closer binary systems have successfully reproduced the spiral-shaped CSEs found around a handful of sources. There is growing evidence for an even closer, undetected companion complicating the case of pi(1) Gruis further. Aims. The improved spatial resolution allows for the investigation of the complex circumstellar morphology and the search for imprints on the CSE of the third component. Methods. We have observed the (CO)-C-12 J = 3-2 line emission from pi(1) Gruis using both the compact and extended array of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The interferometric data have furthermore been combined with data from the ALMA total power array. The imaged brightness distribution has been used to constrain a non-local, non-local thermodynamic equilibrium 3D radiative transfer model of the CSE. Results. The high-angular resolution ALMA data have revealed the first example of a source on the AGB where both a faster bipolar outflow and a spiral pattern along the orbital plane can be seen in the gas envelope. The spiral can be traced in the low- to intermediate-velocity (13-25 km s(-1)) equatorial torus. The largest spiral-arm separation is approximate to 5.\u27\u27 5 and consistent with a companion with an orbital period of approximate to 330 yr and a separation of less than 70 AU. The kinematics of the bipolar outflow is consistent with it being created during a mass-loss eruption where the mass-loss rate from the system increased by at least a factor of five for 10-15 yr. Conclusions. The spiral pattern is the result of an undetected companion. The bipolar outflow is the result of a rather recent mass-loss eruption event

    The shock-heated atmosphere of an asymptotic giant branch star resolved by ALMA

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    Our current understanding of the chemistry and mass-loss processes in solar-like stars at the end of their evolution depends critically on the description of convection, pulsations and shocks in the extended stellar atmosphere. Three-dimensional hydrodynamical stellar atmosphere models provide observational predictions, but so far the resolution to constrain the complex temperature and velocity structures seen in the models has been lacking. Here we present submillimeter continuum and line observations that resolve the atmosphere of the asymptotic giant branch star W Hya. We show that hot gas with chromospheric characteristics exists around the star. Its filling factor is shown to be small. The existence of such gas requires shocks with a cooling time larger than commonly assumed. A shocked hot layer will be an important ingredient in the models of stellar convection, pulsation and chemistry that underlie our current understanding of the late stages of stellar evolution.Comment: 30 pages, 9 figures, including Supplementary information. Author manuscript version before editorial/copyediting by Nature Astronomy. Journal version available via http://rdcu.be/xUW

    Precision Analysis of Evolved Stars

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    Evolved stars dominate galactic spectra, enrich the galactic medium, expand to change their planetary systems, eject winds of a complex nature, produce spectacular nebulae and illuminate them, and transfer material between binary companions. While doing this, they fill the HR diagram with diagnostic loops that write the story of late stellar evolution. Evolved stars sometimes release unfathomable amounts of energy in neutrinos, light, kinetic flow, and gravitational waves. During these late-life times, stars evolve complexly, with expansion, convection, mixing, pulsation, mass loss. Some processes have virtually no spatial symmetries, and are poorly addressed with low-resolution measurements and analysis. Even a "simple" question as how to model mass loss resists solution. However, new methods offer increasingly diagnostic tools. Astrometry reveals populations and groupings. Pulsations/oscillations support study of stellar interiors. Optical/radio interferometry enable 2-3d imagery of atmospheres and shells. Bright stars with rich molecular spectra and velocity fields are a ripe opportunity for imaging with high spatial and spectral resolution, giving insight into the physics and modeling of later stellar evolution

    Precision Analysis of Evolved Stars

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    Evolved stars dominate galactic spectra, enrich the galactic medium, expand to change their planetary systems, eject winds of a complex nature, produce spectacular nebulae and illuminate them, and transfer material between binary companions. While doing this, they fill the HR diagram with diagnostic loops that write the story of late stellar evolution. Evolved stars sometimes release unfathomable amounts of energy in neutrinos, light, kinetic flow, and gravitational waves. During these late-life times, stars evolve complexly, with expansion, convection, mixing, pulsation, mass loss. Some processes have virtually no spatial symmetries, and are poorly addressed with low-resolution measurements and analysis. Even a "simple" question as how to model mass loss resists solution. However, new methods offer increasingly diagnostic tools. Astrometry reveals populations and groupings. Pulsations/oscillations support study of stellar interiors. Optical/radio interferometry enable 2-3d imagery of atmospheres and shells. Bright stars with rich molecular spectra and velocity fields are a ripe opportunity for imaging with high spatial and spectral resolution, giving insight into the physics and modeling of later stellar evolution.Comment: Decadal2020 Science White Paper; 6 pages, 12 figure
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