Silicate features in Galactic and extragalactic post-AGB discs

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, Alan Turing Building, The University of Manchester, M13 9PL, Manchester, UK
Astronomy and Astrophysics (Impact Factor: 4.38). 09/2011; 533. DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201117364


Aims. In this paper we study the Spitzer and TIMMI2 infrared spectra of post-AGB disc sources, both in the Galaxy and the LMC. Using the observed infrared spectra we determine the mineralogy and dust parameters of the discs, and look for possible differences between the Galactic and extragalactic sources. Methods. Modelling the full spectral range observed allows us to determine the dust species present in the disc and different physical parameters such as grain sizes, dust abundance ratios, and the dust and continuum temperatures. Results. We find that all the discs are dominated by emission features of crystalline and amorphous silicate dust. Only a few sample sources show features due to CO 2 gas or carbonaceous molecules such as PAHs and C 60 fullerenes. Our analysis shows that dust grain processing in these discs is strong, resulting in large average grain sizes and a very high crystallinity fraction. However, we do not find any correlations between the derived dust parameters and properties of the central source. There also does not seem to be a noticeable difference between the mineralogy of the Galactic and LMC sources. Even though the observed spectra are very similar to those of protoplanetary discs around young stars, showing similar mineralogy and strong grain processing, we do find evidence for differences in the physical and chemical processes of the dust processing.

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    • "Other possible sites for the formation of very large dust grains are stable structures such as circumstellar/circumbinary disks and tori where dust is stored around the central star(s) and allowed to grow. These dusty structures and associated large grains are observed around post-AGB binaries (although these are typically O-rich; Gielen et al., 2011) and planetary nebulae (Cerrigone et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: We report barium isotopic measurements in 12 large (7–58 μm) stardust silicon carbide grains recovered from the Murchison carbonaceous chondrite. The C-, N-, and Si-isotopic compositions indicate that all 12 grains belong to the mainstream population and, as such, are interpreted to have condensed in the outflows of low-mass carbon-rich asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars with close-to-solar metallicity. Barium isotopic analyses were carried out on the Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe – Reverse Geometry (SHRIMP-RG) with combined high mass resolution and energy filtering to eliminate isobaric interferences from molecular ions. Contrary to previous measurements in small (<5 μm) mainstream grains, the analyzed large SiC grains do not show the classical s-process enrichment, having near solar Ba isotopic compositions. While contamination with solar material is a common explanation for the lack of large isotopic anomalies in stardust SiC grains, particularly for these large grains which have low trace element abundances, our results are consistent with previous observations that Ba isotopic ratios are dependent on grain size. We have compared the SiC data with theoretical predictions of the evolution of Ba isotopic ratios in the envelopes of low-mass AGB stars with a range of stellar masses and metallicities. The Ba isotopic measurements obtained for large SiC grains from the LS + LU fractions are consistent with grain condensation in the envelope of very low-mass AGB stars (1.25 M⊙) with close-to-solar metallicity, which suggests that conditions for growth of large SiC might be more favorable in very low-mass AGB stars during the early C-rich stages of AGB evolution or in stable structures around AGB stars whose evolution was cut short due to binary interaction, before the AGB envelope had already been largely enriched with the products of s-process nucleosynthesis.
    Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 11/2013; 120:628-647. DOI:10.1016/j.gca.2013.03.039 · 4.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The circumstellar environment of evolved stars is generally rich in molecular gas and dust. Typically, the entire environment is either oxygen-rich or carbon-rich, depending on the evolution of the central star. Aims. In this paper we discuss three evolved disc sources with evidence of atypical emission lines in their infrared spectra. The stars were taken from a larger sample of post-AGB binaries for which we have Spitzer infrared spectra, characterised by the presence of a stable oxygen-rich circumbinary disc. Our previous studies have shown that the infrared spectra of post-AGB disc sources are dominated by silicate dust emission, often with an extremely high crystallinity fraction. However, the three sources described here are selected because they show a peculiar molecular chemistry. Methods. Using Spitzer infrared spectroscopy, we study in detail the peculiar mineralogy of the three sample stars. Using the observed emission features, we identify the different observed dust, molecular and gas species. Results. The infrared spectra show emission features due to various oxygen-rich dust components, as well as CO2 gas. All three sources show the strong infrared bands generally ascribed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Furthermore, two sample sources show C60 fullerene bands. Conclusions. Even though the majority of post-AGB disc sources are dominated by silicate dust in their circumstellar environment, we do find evidence that, for some sources at least, additional processing must occur to explain the presence of large carbonaceous molecules. There is evidence that some of these sources are still oxygen-rich, which makes the detection of these molecules even more surprising.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 10/2011; 536(0004-6361). DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201117961 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present evidence of a >10-sigma detection of the 10 micron silicate dust absorption feature in the spectrum of the gravitationally lensed quasar PKS 1830-211, produced by a foreground absorption system at redshift 0.886. We have examined more than 100 optical depth templates, derived from both observations of Galactic and extragalactic sources and laboratory measurements, in order to constrain the chemical structure of the silicate dust. We find that the best fit to the observed absorption profile is produced by laboratory crystalline olivine, with a corresponding peak optical depth of tau_10=0.27+/-0.05. The fit is slightly improved upon by including small contributions from additional materials such as silica, enstatite, or serpentine, which suggests that the dust composition may consist of a blend of crystalline silicates. Combining templates for amorphous and crystalline silicates, we find that the fraction of crystalline silicates needs to be at least 95%. Given the rarity of extragalactic sources with such a high degree of silicate crystallinity, we also explore the possibility that the observed spectral features are produced by amorphous silicates in combination with other molecular or atomic transitions, or by foreground source contamination. While we cannot rule out these latter possibilities, they lead to much poorer profile fits than for the crystalline olivine templates. If the presence of crystalline interstellar silicates in this distant galaxy is real, it would be highly unusual, given that the Milky Way interstellar matter contains essentially only amorphous silicates. It is possible that the z=0.886 absorber towards PKS 1830-211, well known for its high molecular content, has a unique star-forming environment that enables crystalline silicates to form and prevail.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2012; 748(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/748/1/19 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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