Detection of CI line emission from the detached CO shell of the AGB star R Sculptoris⋆
Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers Univ. of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, 43992 Onsala, Sweden
Received: 15 June 2015
Accepted: 3 September 2015
Context. Stars on the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) lose substantial amounts of matter, to the extent that they are important for the chemical evolution of, and dust production in, the Universe. The mass loss is believed to increase gradually with age on the AGB, but it may also occur in the form of bursts, possibly related to the thermal pulsing phenomenon. Detached, geometrically thin, CO shells around carbon stars are good signposts of brief and intense mass ejection.
Aims. We aim to put further constraints on the physical properties of detached CO shells around AGB stars.
Methods. The photodissociation of CO and other carbon-bearing species in the shells leads to the possibility of detecting lines from neutral carbon. We have therefore searched for the CI(3P1−3P0) line at 492 GHz towards two carbon stars, S Sct and R Scl, with detached CO shells of different ages, ≈8000 and 2300 years, respectively.
Results. The CI(3P1−3P0) line was detected towards R Scl. The line intensity is dominated by emission from the detached shell. The detection is at a level consistent with the neutral carbon coming from the full photodissociation of all species except CO, and with only limited photoionisation of carbon. The best fit to the observed 12CO and 13CO line intensities, assuming a homogeneous shell, is obtained for a shell mass of ≈0.002 M⊙, a temperature of ≈100 K, and a CO abundance with respect to H2 of 10-3. The estimated CI/CO abundance ratio is ≈0.3 for the best-fit model. However, a number of arguments point in the direction of a clumpy medium, and a viable interpretation of the data within such a context is provided.
Key words: stars: AGB and post-AGB / circumstellar matter / stars: mass-loss / radio lines: stars / stars: individual: R Scl / stars: individual: S Sct
© ESO, 2015