Post-AGB stars in the SMC as tracers of stellar evolution: the extreme s-process enrichment of the 21 μm star J004441.04-732136.4⋆,⋆⋆
1 Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
2 Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Weston Creek ACT 2611, Australia
3 Institut d’Astronomie et d’Astrophysique, Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB, CP 226, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Received: 2 March 2012
Accepted: 19 March 2012
Context. This paper is part of a larger project in which we want to focus on the still poorly understood asymptotic giant branch (AGB) third dredge-up processes and associated s-process nucleosynthesis.
Aims. We confront accurate spectral abundance analyses of post-AGB stars in both the Magellanic Clouds, to state-of-the-art AGB model predictions. With this comparison we aim at improving our understanding of the 3rd dredge-up phenomena and their dependencies on initial mass and metallicity.
Methods. Because of the well constrained distance with respect to Galactic post-AGB stars, we choose an extra-galactic post-AGB star for this contribution, namely the only known 21 μm object of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC): J004441.04-732136.4. We used optical UVES spectra to perform an accurate spectral abundance analysis. With photometric data of multiple catalogues we construct a spectral energy distribution (SED) and perform a variability analysis. The results are then compared to predictions of tailored theoretical chemical AGB evolutionary models for which we used two evolution codes.
Results. Spectral abundance results reveal J004441.04-732136.4 to be one of the most s-process enriched objects found up to date, while the photospheric C/O ratio of 1.9 ± 0.7, shows the star is only modestly C-rich. J004441.04-732136.4 also displays a low [Fe/H] = −1.34 ± 0.32, which is significantly lower than the mean metallicity of the SMC. From the SED, a luminosity of 7600 ± 200 L⊙ is found, together with E(B − V) = 0.64 ± 0.02. According to evolutionary post-AGB tracks, the initial mass should be ≈1.3 M⊙. The photometric variability shows a clear period of 97.6 ± 0.3 days. The detected C/O as well as the high s-process overabundances (e.g. [Y/Fe] = 2.15, [La/Fe] = 2.84) are hard to reconcile with the predictions. The chemical models also predict a high Pb abundance, which is not compatible with the detected spectrum, and a very high 12C/13C, which is not yet constrained by observations. The predictions are only marginally dependent on the evolution codes used.
Conclusions. By virtue of their spectral types, favourable bolometric corrections as well as their constrained distances, post-AGB stars in external galaxies offer unprecedented tests to AGB nucleosynthesis and dredge-up predictions. We focus here on one object J004441.04-732136.4, which is the only known 21 μm source of the SMC. We show that our theoretical predictions match the s-process distribution, but fail in reproducing the detected high overabundances and predict a high Pb abundance which is not detected. Additionally, there remain serious problems in explaining the observed pulsational properties of this source.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: abundances / stars: evolution / stars: oscillations / Magellanic Clouds / nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances
Based on observations collected with the Very Large Telescope at the ESO Paranal Observatory (Chili) of programme number 084.D-0932.
Table 5 is available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2012