Mass loss evolution and the formation of detached shells around TP-AGB stars*
Department of Astronomy and Space Physics, Uppsala University, Box 515, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden e-mail: email@example.com
2 Keele Astrophysics Group, School of Physical and Geographical Sciences, Keele University, Stafford shire ST5 5BG, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Theoretical Astrophysics Group, LANL, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 28 April 2007
Context. The origin of the so called “detached shells” around AGB stars is not fully understood, but two common hypotheses state that these shells form either through the interaction of distinct wind phases or an eruptive mass loss associated with a He-shell flash. We present a model of the formation of detached shells around thermal pulse asymptotic giant branch (TP-AGB) stars, based on detailed modelling of mass loss and stellar evolution, leading to a combination of eruptive mass loss and wind interaction.
Aims. The purpose of this paper is first of all to connect stellar evolution with wind and mass loss evolution and demonstrate its consistency with observations, but also to show how thin detached shells around TP-AGB stars can be formed. Previous attempts to link mass loss evolution with the formation of detached shells were based on approximate prescriptions for the mass loss and have not included detailed modelling of the wind formation as we do here.
Methods. Using stellar parameters sampled from an evolutionary track for a star, we have computed the time evolution of the atmospheric layers and wind acceleration region during a typical thermal pulse with detailed radiation hydrodynamical models including dust formation. Based on these results, we simulate the subsequent circumstellar envelope (CSE) evolution using a spherical hydrodynamic model.
Results. We find that existing simple mass loss prescriptions all suggest different mass loss evolutions and that they differ from our detailed wind modelling. The most important factor for the formation of a detached shell is the wind velocity evolution which has a strong impact on the wind interaction and the resulting pile-up of matter. Our CSE model shows that a thin shell structure may be formed as a consequence of a rather short phase of intense mass loss in combination with a significant variation in the wind velocity, as obtained by our wind models. This situation can only be obtained for a limited range of amplitudes for the piston boundary used in the dynamic atmosphere models.
Conclusions. The combined mass loss eruption and wind interaction scenario for the formation of detached shells around AGB stars (suggested by previous work) is confirmed by the present modelling. Changes in mass loss rate and wind velocity due to a He-shell flash are adequate for creating distinct wind phases and a “snow plow effect” that is necessary to form a geometrically thin detached shell. The derived properties of the shell (i.e. radius, thickness and density) are more or less consistent with existing observational constraints.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: atmospheres / stars: carbon / stars: circumstellar matter / stars: evolution / stars: mass-loss
© ESO, 2007