Detailed modelling of the circumstellar molecular line emission of the S-type AGB star W Aquilae
Journal article, 2014
Context. S-type AGB stars have a C/O ratio which suggests that they are transition objects between oxygen-rich M-type stars and carbon-rich C-type stars. As such, their circumstellar compositions of gas and dust are thought to be sensitive to their precise C/O ratio, and it is therefore of particular interest to examine their circumstellar properties. Aims. We present new Herschel HIFI and PACS sub-millimetre and far-infrared line observations of several molecular species towards the S-type AGB star W Aql. We use these observations, which probe a wide range of gas temperatures, to constrain the circumstellar properties of W Aql, including mass-loss rate and molecular abundances. Methods. We used radiative transfer codes to model the circumstellar dust and molecular line emission to determine circumstellar properties and molecular abundances. We assumed a spherically symmetric envelope formed by a constant mass-loss rate driven by an accelerating wind. Our model includes fully integrated H2O line cooling as part of the solution of the energy balance. Results. We detect circumstellar molecular lines from CO, H2O, SiO, HCN, and, for the first time in an S-type AGB star, NH3. The radiative transfer calculations result in an estimated mass-loss rate for W Aql of 4.0 x 10(-6) M-circle dot yr(-1) based on the (CO)-C-12 lines. The estimated (CO)-C-12/(CO)-C-13 ratio is 29, which is in line with ratios previously derived for S-type AGB stars. We find an H2O abundance of 1.5 x 10(-5), which is intermediate to the abundances expected for M and C stars, and an ortho/para ratio for H2O that is consistent with formation at warm temperatures. We find an HCN abundance of 3 x 10(-6), and, although no CN lines are detected using HIFI, we are able to put some constraints on the abundance, 6 x 10(-6), and distribution of CN in W Aql's circumstellar envelope using ground-based data. We find an SiO abundance of 3 x 10(-6), and an NH3 abundance of 1.7 x 10(-5), confined to a small envelope. If we include uncertainties in the adopted circumstellar model - in the adopted abundance distributions, etc. - the errors in the abundances are of the order of factors of a few. The data also suggest that, in terms of HCN, S-type and M-type AGB stars are similar, and in terms of H2O, S-type AGB stars are more like C-type than M-type AGB stars. We detect excess blue-shifted emission in several molecular lines, possibly due to an asymmetric outflow. Conclusions. The estimated abundances of circumstellar HCN, SiO and H2O place W Aql in between M-and C-type AGB stars, i.e., the abundances are consistent with an S-type classification.
stars: AGB and post-AGB