Koninklijke Sterrenwacht van België, Ringlaan 3, 1180 Brussels, Belgium e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Cornell University, Astronomy Department, Ithaca, NY 14853-6801, USA
3 Warsaw University Observatory, Al. Ujazdowskie 4, 00-478 Warszawa, Poland
4 University of Nebraska, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
5 NSF REU Research Assistant, Cornell University, Astronomy Department, Ithaca, NY 14853-6801, USA
Accepted: 20 August 2009
Context. Mass loss is one of the fundamental properties of Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars, and through the enrichment of the interstellar medium, AGB stars are key players in the life cycle of dust and gas in the universe. However, a quantitative understanding of the mass-loss process is still largely lacking, particularly its dependence on metallicity.
Aims. To investigate the relation between mass loss, luminosity and pulsation period for a large sample of evolved stars in the Small and Large Magellanic Cloud.
Methods. Dust radiative transfer models are presented for 101 carbon stars and 86 oxygen-rich evolved stars in the Magellanic Clouds for which 5–35 μm Spitzer IRS spectra are available. The spectra are complemented with available optical and infrared photometry to construct the spectral energy distribution. A minimisation procedure is used to fit luminosity, mass-loss rate and dust temperature at the inner radius. Different effective temperatures and dust content are also considered. Periods from the literature and from new OGLE-III data are compiled and derived.
Results. We derive (dust) mass-loss rates and luminosities for the entire sample. Based on luminosities, periods and amplitudes and colours, the O-rich stars are classified as foreground objects, AGB stars and Red Super Giants. For the O-rich stars silicates based on laboratory optical constants are compared to “astronomical silicates”. Overall, the grain type by Volk & Kwok (1988, ApJ, 331, 435) fits the data best. However, the fit based on laboratory optical constants for the grains can be improved by abandoning the small-particle limit. The influence of grain size, core-mantle grains and porosity are explored. A computationally convenient method that seems to describe the observed properties in the 10 μm window are a distribution of hollow spheres with a large vacuum fraction (typically 70%), and grain size of about 1 μm. Relations between mass-loss rates and luminosity and pulsation period are presented and compared to the predictions of evolutionary models, those by Vassiliadis & Wood (1993, ApJ, 413, 641) and their adopted mass-loss recipe, and those based on a Reimers mass-loss law with a scaling of a factor of five. The Vassiliadis & Wood models describe the data better, although there are also some deficiencies, in particular to the maximum adopted mass-loss rate. The derived mass-loss rates are compared to predictions by dynamical wind models and appear consistent with them at a level of a factor 2–4. A better understanding requires the determination of the expansion velocity from future observations from ALMA. The OGLE-III data reveal an O-rich star in the SMC with a period of 1749 days. Its absolute magnitude of makes it a good candidate for a super-AGB star.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: mass loss / Magellanic Clouds
© ESO, 2009