Volume 526, February 2011
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Published online||14 January 2011|
Letters to the Editor
Water in IRC+10216: a genuine formation process by shock-induced chemistry in the inner wind⋆
Departement PhysikUniversität Basel,
Received: 31 October 2010
Accepted: 22 December 2010
Context. The presence of water in the wind of the extreme carbon star IRC+10216 has been confirmed by the Herschel telescope. The regions where the high-J H2O lines have been detected are close to the star at radii r ≤ 15 R ⋆ .
Aims. We investigate the formation of water and related molecules in the periodically-shocked inner layers of IRC+10216 where dust also forms and accelerates the wind.
Methods. We describe the molecular formation by a chemical kinetic network involving carbon-and oxygen-based molecules. We then apply this network to the physical conditions pertaining to the dust-formation zone which experiences the passage of pulsation-driven shocks between 1 and 5 R ⋆ . We solve for a system of stiff, coupled, ordinary, and differential equations.
Results. Non-equilibrium chemistry prevails in the dust-formation zone. H2O forms quickly above the photosphere from the synthesis of hydroxyl OH induced by the thermal fragmentation of CO in the hot post-shock gas. The derived abundance with respect to H2 at 5 R ⋆ is 1.4 × 10-7, which excellently agrees with the values derived from Herschel observations. The non-equilibrium formation process of water will be active whatever the stellar C/O ratio, and H2O should then be present in the wind acceleration zone of all stars on the Asymptotic Giant Branch.
Key words: astrochemistry / molecular processes / stars: low-mass / stars: carbon / stars: AGB and post-AGB
Appendix is only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2011
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