Volume 474, Number 2, November I 2007
|Page(s)||599 - 608|
|Published online||04 September 2007|
The molecular and dusty composition of Betelgeuse's inner circumstellar environment*
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, CNRS, UMR 8109, UPMC, Université Paris Diderot, 92190 Meudon, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
3 National Optical Astronomy Observatories, Tucson, AZ, USA
4 Physics & Astronomy Dept., University of Western Ontario, London ON N6A 3K7, Canada
5 Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Gémini, UMR 6302, BP 4229, 06304 Nice, France
6 Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
7 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschildstr. 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
Accepted: 21 August 2007
Context.The study of the atmosphere of red supergiant stars in general and of Betelgeuse (α Orionis) in particular is of prime importance to understand dust formation and how mass is lost to the interstellar medium in evolved massive stars.
Aims.A molecular shell, the MOLsphere (Tsuji 2000a, ApJ, 538, 801), in the atmosphere of Betelgeuse has been proposed to account for the near- and mid-infrared spectroscopic observations of Betelgeuse. The goal is to further test this hypothesis and to identify some of the molecules in this MOLsphere.
Methods.We report on measurements taken with the mid-infrared two-telescope beam combiner of the VLTI, MIDI, operated between 7.5 and 13.5 μm. The data are compared to a simple geometric model of a photosphere surrounded by a warm absorbing and emitting shell. Physical characteristics of the shell are derived: size, temperature and optical depth. The chemical constituents are determined with an analysis consistent with available infrared spectra and interferometric data.
Results.The MIDI data are well modeled with a geometrically thin shell whose radius varies from 1.31 to 1.43 across the N band with a typical temperature of 1550 K. We are able to account for the measured optical depth of the shell in the N band, the ISO-SWS spectrum and K and L band interferometric data with a shell whose inner and outer radii are given by the above range and with the following species and densities: H2O ( cm-2), SiO ( cm-2), Al2O3 ( cm-2).
Conclusions.These results confirm the MOLsphere model. We bring evidence for more constituents and for the presence of species participating in the formation of dust grains in the atmosphere of the star, i.e. well below the distance at which the dust shell is detected. We believe these results bring key elements to the understanding of mass loss in Betelgeuse and red supergiants in general and bring support to the dust-driven scenario.
Key words: techniques: interferometric / stars: fundamental parameters / stars: mass-loss / stars: individual: Betelgeuse / infrared: stars
© ESO, 2007
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