Submillimetre water masers at 437, 439, 471, and 474 GHz towards evolved stars: APEX observations and radiative transfer modelling*
Journal article, 2020

Aims. Here we aim to characterise submillimetre water masers at 437, 439, 471, and 474 GHz towards a sample of evolved stars.
Methods. We used the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX(1)) to observe submillimetre water transitions and the CO (4-3) line towards 11 evolved stars. The sample included semi-regular and Mira variables, plus a red supergiant star. We performed radiative transfer modelling for the water masers. We also used the CO observations to determine mass loss rates for the stars.
Results. From the sample of 11 evolved stars, 7 display one or more of the masers at 437, 439, 471, and 474 GHz. We therefore find that these masers are common in evolved star circumstellar envelopes. The fact that the maser lines are detected near the stellar velocity indicates that they are likely to originate from the inner circumstellar envelopes of our targets. We tentatively link the presence of masers to the degree of variability of the target star, that is, masers are more likely to be present in Mira variables than in semi-regular variables. We suggest that this indicates the importance of strong shocks in creating the necessary conditions for the masers. Typically, the 437 GHz line is the strongest maser line observed among those studied here. We cannot reproduce the above finding in our radiative transfer models. In general, we find that maser emission is very sensitive to dust temperature in the lines studied here. To produce strong maser emission, the dust temperature must be significantly lower than the gas kinetic temperature. In addition to running grids of models in order to determine the optimum physical conditions for strong masers in these lines, we performed smooth wind modelling for which we cannot reproduce the observed line shapes. This also suggests that the masers must originate predominantly from the inner envelopes.

stars: AGB and post-AGB


submillimeter: stars


stars: winds


Per Bergman

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Onsala Space Observatory, Observation Support

E. M. L. Humphreys

European Southern Observatory Santiago

Atacama Large Millimeter-submillimeter Array (ALMA)

Astronomy and Astrophysics

0004-6361 (ISSN) 1432-0746 (eISSN)

Vol. 638 A19

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology



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9/1/2020 1