Volume 413, Number 3, January III 2004
|Page(s)||981 - 991|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||07 January 2004|
MgS in detached shells around carbon stars*
Mining the mass-loss history
RSSD-ESA/ESTEC, PO Box 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
2 CEA, DSM, DAPNIA, Service d'Astrophysique, CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Corresponding author: S. Hony, email@example.com
Accepted: 25 September 2003
We investigate the dust composition of detached shells around carbon stars, with a focus to understand the origin of the cool magnesium-sulfide (MgS) material around warm carbon stars, which has been detected around several of these objects [CITE]. We build a radiative transfer model of a carbon star surrounded by an expanding detached shell of dust. The shell contains amorphous carbon grains and MgS grains. We find that a small fraction of MgS dust (2% of the dust mass) can give a significant contribution to the IRAS 25 μm flux. However, the presence of MgS in the detached shell cannot be inferred from the IRAS broadband photometry alone but requires infrared spectroscopy. We apply the model to the detached-shell sources R Scl and U Cam, both exhibiting a cool MgS feature in their ISO/SWS spectra. We use the shell parameters derived for the molecular shell, using the CO submillimetre maps [CITE]. The models, with MgS grains located in the detached shell, explain the MgS grain temperature, as derived from their ISO spectra, very well. This demonstrates that the MgS grains are located at the distance of the detached shell, which is a direct indication that these shells originate from a time when the stellar photosphere was already carbon-rich. In the case of R Scl, the IRAS photometry is simultaneously explained by the single shell model. In the case of U Cam, the IRAS photometry is under predicted, pointing to a contribution from cooler dust located even farther away from the star than the molecular shell. We present a simple diagnostic to constrain the distance of the shell using the profile of the MgS emission feature. The emission feature shifts to longer wavelength with decreasing grain temperature. One can therefore infer a temperature and a corresponding distance to the star from the observed profile. Such a diagnostic might prove useful for future studies of such systems with SIRTF or SOFIA.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: carbon / stars: mass-loss / stars: individual: R Scl & U Cam / circumstellar matter / infrared: stars
© ESO, 2004
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