Modelling the carbon AGB star R Sculptoris: Constraining the dust properties in the detached shell based on far-infrared and sub-millimeter observations
Journal article, 2018
Context. On the asymptotic giant branch (AGB), Sun-like stars lose a large portion of their mass in an intensive wind and enrich the surrounding interstellar medium with nuclear processed stellar material in the form of molecular gas and dust. For a number of carbon-rich AGB stars, thin detached shells of gas and dust have been observed. These shells are formed during brief periods of increased mass loss and expansion velocity during a thermal pulse, and open up the possibility to study the mass-loss history of thermally pulsing AGB stars. Aims. We study the properties of dust grains in the detached shell around the carbon AGB star R Scl and aim to quantify the influence of the dust grain properties on the shape of the spectral energy distribution (SED) and the derived dust shell mass. Methods. We modelled the SED of the circumstellar dust emission and compared the models to observations, including new observations of Herschel/PACS and SPIRE (infrared) and APEX/LABOCA (sub-millimeter). We derived present-day mass-loss rates and detached shell masses for a variation of dust grain properties (opacities, chemical composition, grain size, and grain geometry) to quantify the influence of changing dust properties to the derived shell mass. Results. The best-fitting mass-loss parameters are a present-day dust mass-loss rate of 2 × 10-10M⊙yr-1and a detached shell dust mass of (2.9 ± 0.3) × 10-5M⊙. Compared to similar studies, the uncertainty on the dust mass is reduced by a factor of 4. We find that the size of the grains dominates the shape of the SED, while the estimated dust shell mass is most strongly affected by the geometry of the dust grains. Additionally, we find a significant sub-millimeter excess that cannot be reproduced by any of the models, but is most likely not of thermal origin.
Stars: AGB and post-AGB