An empirical mass-loss law for Population II giants from the Spitzer-IRAC survey of Galactic globular clusters⋆,⋆⋆
1 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2 University of Bologna, Physics & Astronomy Dept., Viale Berti Pichat 6-2, 40127 Bologna, Italy
3 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1547, USA
4 ESO – European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild Str. 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
Received: 11 February 2014
Accepted: 2 March 2014
Aims. The main aim of the present work is to derive an empirical mass-loss (ML) law for Population II stars in first and second ascent red giant branches.
Methods. We used the Spitzer InfraRed Array Camera (IRAC) photometry obtained in the 3.6–8 μm range of a carefully chosen sample of 15 Galactic globular clusters spanning the entire metallicity range and sampling the vast zoology of horizontal branch (HB) morphologies. We complemented the IRAC photometry with near-infrared data to build suitable color-magnitude and color-color diagrams and identify mass-losing giant stars.
Results. We find that while the majority of stars show colors typical of cool giants, some stars show an excess of mid-infrared light that is larger than expected from their photospheric emission and that is plausibly due to dust formation in mass flowing from them. For these stars, we estimate dust and total (gas + dust) ML rates and timescales. We finally calibrate an empirical ML law for Population II red and asymptotic giant branch stars with varying metallicity. We find that at a given red giant branch luminosity only a fraction of the stars are losing mass. From this, we conclude that ML is episodic and is active only a fraction of the time, which we define as the duty cycle. The fraction of mass-losing stars increases by increasing the stellar luminosity and metallicity. The ML rate, as estimated from reasonable assumptions for the gas-to-dust ratio and expansion velocity, depends on metallicity and slowly increases with decreasing metallicity. In contrast, the duty cycle increases with increasing metallicity, with the net result that total ML increases moderately with increasing metallicity, about 0.1 M⊙ every dex in [Fe/H]. For Population II asymptotic giant branch stars, we estimate a total ML of ≤0.1 M⊙, nearly constant with varying metallicity.
Key words: techniques: photometric / Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams / stars: evolution / stars: mass-loss / stars: Population II / globular clusters: general
This work is based on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. Support for this work was provided by NASA through an award issued by JPL/Caltech.
Appendix A is available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2014