Laboratory measurement of optical constants of solid SiO and application to circumstellar dust
1 Universität Heidelberg, Kirchhoff-Institut für Physik, Im Neuenheimer Feld 227, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Universität Heidelberg, Zentrum für Astronomie, Institut für Theoretische Astrophysik, Albert-Ueberle-Str. 2, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
3 Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Geowissenschaften, Im Neuenheimer Feld 234–236, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 28 November 2012
Accepted: 13 March 2013
Context. Silicate minerals belong to the most abundant solids that form in cosmic environments. Their formation requires that a sufficient number of oxygen atoms per silicon atom are freely available. For the standard cosmic element mixture this can usually be taken for granted, but it becomes a problem at the transition from the oxygen-rich chemistry of M-stars to the carbon-rich chemistry of C-stars. In the intermediate type S-stars, most of the oxygen and carbon is consumed by formation of CO and SiO molecules, and left-over oxygen to build SiO4-tetrahedrons in solids becomes scarce. Under such conditions SiO molecules from the gas phase may condense into solid SiO. The infrared absorption spectrum of solid SiO differs from that of normal silicates by the absence of Si-O-Si bending modes around 18 μm whereas the absorption band due to Si-O bond stretching modes at about 10 μm is present. Observations show that exactly this particular characteristic can be found in some S-star spectra.
Aims. We demonstrate that this observation may be explained by the formation of solid SiO as a major dust component at C/O abundance ratios close to unity.
Methods. The infrared absorption properties of solid SiO are determined by laboratory transmission measurements of thin films of SiO produced by vapour deposition on a Si(111) wafer in the range between 100 cm-1 and 5000 cm-1 (2 μm and 100 μm). From the measured spectra the dielectric function of SiO is derived by using a Brendel-oscillator model, particularly suited to the representation of optical properties of amorphous materials. The results are used in model calculations of radiative transfer in circumstellar dust shells with solid SiO dust in order to determine the spectral features due to SiO dust.
Results. Comparison of synthetic and observed spectra shows that reasonable agreement is obtained between the main spectral characteristics of emission bands due to solid silicon monoxide and an emission band centred on 10 μm, but without the accompanying 18μm band, observed in some S-stars. We propose that solid SiO is the carrier material of this 10 μm spectral feature.
Key words: circumstellar matter / stars: mass-loss / stars: chemically peculiar / stars: AGB and post-AGB
© ESO, 2013