Journal Article

Towards a spectral technique for determining material geometry around evolved stars: application to HD 179821

J. Nordhaus, I. Minchev, B. Sargent, W. Forrest, E. G. Blackman, O. De Marco, J. Kastner, B. Balick and A. Frank

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 388, issue 2, pages 716-722
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13428.x
Towards a spectral technique for determining material geometry around evolved stars: application to HD 179821

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HD 179821 is an evolved star of unknown progenitor mass range (either post-asymptotic giant branch or post-red supergiant) exhibiting a double-peaked spectral energy distribution (SED) with a sharp rise from ∼8 to 20 μm. Such features have been associated with ejected dust shells or inwardly truncated circumstellar discs. In order to compare SEDs from both systems, we employ a spherically symmetric radiative transfer code and compare it to a radiative, inwardly truncated disc code. As a case study, we model the broad-band SED of HD 179821 using both codes. Shortward of 40 μm, we find that both models produce equivalent fits to the data. However, longward of 40 μm, the radial density distribution and corresponding broad range of disc temperatures produce excess emission above our spherically symmetric solutions and observations. For HD 179821, our best fit consists of a Teff= 7000 K central source characterized by τV∼ 1.95 and surrounded by a radiatively driven, spherically symmetric dust shell. The extinction of the central source reddens the broad-band colours so that they resemble a Teff= 5750 K photosphere. We believe that HD 179821 contains a hotter central star than previously thought. Our results provide an initial step towards a technique to distinguish geometric differences from spectral modelling.

Keywords: radiative transfer; stars: AGB and post-AGB; circumstellar matter; planetary nebulae: general; infrared: general; submillimetre

Journal Article.  5178 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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