The abundance of SiS in circumstellar envelopes around AGB stars
Stockholm Observatory, AlbaNova University Center, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: email@example.com
2 Onsala Space Observatory, 43992 Onsala, Sweden
3 Leiden Observatory, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Accepted: 6 July 2007
Aims.Given their photospheric origin and refractive nature, SiS molecules can provide major constraints on the relative roles of dust condensation and non-equilibrium processes in regulating the chemistry in circumstellar envelopes around evolved stars.
Methods.New SiS multi-transition (sub-)millimetre line observations of a sample of AGB stars with varying photospheric C/O-ratios and mass-loss rates are presented. A combination of low- and high-energy lines are important in constraining the circumstellar distribution of SiS molecules. A detailed radiative transfer modelling of the observed SiS line emission is performed, including assessment of the effect of thermal dust grains in the excitation analysis.
Results.We find that the circumstellar fractional abundance of SiS in these environments has a strong dependence on the photospheric C/O-ratio as expected from chemical models. The carbon stars (C/O > 1) have a mean fractional abundance of 3.1 10-6, about one order of magnitude higher than that found for the M-type AGB stars (C/O < 1) where the mean value is 2.7 10-7. These numbers are in reasonable agreement with photospheric LTE chemical models. SiS appears to behave similarly to SiO in terms of photodissociation in the outer part of the circumstellar envelope. In contrast to previous results for the related molecule SiO, there is no strong correlation of the fractional abundance with density in the CSE, as would be the case if freeze-out onto dust grains were important. However, possible time-variability of the line emission in the lower J transitions and the sensitivity of the line emission to abundance gradients in the inner part of the CSE may mask a correlation with the density of the wind. There are indications that the SiS fractional abundance could be significantly higher closer to the star which, at least in the case of M-type AGB stars, would require non-equilibrium chemical processes.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: circumstellar matter / stars: late-type / stars: mass-loss
© ESO, 2007