Volume 502, Number 3, August II 2009
|Page(s)||913 - 927|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||15 June 2009|
The puzzling dredge-up pattern in NGC 1978
University of Vienna, Department of Astronomy, Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria e-mail: [lederer;lebzelter;aringer]@astro.univie.ac.at
2 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Collurania, 64100 Teramo, Italy e-mail: [cristallo;straniero]@oa-teramo.inaf.it
3 National Optical Astronomy Observatories (Operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.) , PO Box 26732, Tucson, AZ 85726, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy
Accepted: 2 June 2009
Context. Low-mass stars are element factories that efficiently release their products in the final stages of their evolution by means of stellar winds. Since they are large in number, they contribute significantly to the cosmic matter cycle. To assess this contribution quantitatively, it is crucial to obtain a detailed picture of the stellar interior, particularly with regard to nucleosynthesis and mixing mechanisms.
Aims. We seek to benchmark stellar evolutionary models of low-mass stars. In particular, we measure the surface abundance of 12C in thermally pulsing AGB stars with well-known mass and metallicity, which can be used to infer information about the onset and efficiency of the third dredge-up.
Methods. We recorded high-resolution near-infrared spectra of AGB stars in the LMC cluster NGC 1978. The sample comprised both oxygen-rich and carbon-rich stars, and is well-constrained in terms of the stellar mass, metallicity, and age. We derived the C/O and 12C/13C ratio from the target spectra by a comparison to synthetic spectra. Then, we compared the outcomes of stellar evolutionary models with our measurements.
Results. The M stars in NGC 1978 show values of C/O and 12C/13C that can best be explained with moderate extra-mixing on the RGB coupled to a moderate oxygen enhancement in the chemical composition. These oxygen-rich stars do not seem to have undergone third dredge-up episodes (yet). The C stars show carbon-to-oxygen and carbon isotopic ratios consistent with the occurrence of the third dredge-up. We did not find S stars in this cluster. None of the theoretical schemes that we considered was able to reproduce the observations appropriately. Instead, we discuss some non-standard scenarios to explain the puzzling abundance pattern in NGC 1978.
Key words: stars: abundances / stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: evolution
© ESO, 2009
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