The wind of W Hya as seen by Herschel – I. The CO envelope [SSA]

Asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars lose their envelopes by means of a stellar wind whose driving mechanism is not understood well. Characterizing the composition and thermal and dynamical structure of the outflow provides constraints that are essential for understanding AGB evolution, including the rate of mass loss and isotopic ratios.
We modeled the CO emission from the wind of the low mass-loss rate oxygen-rich AGB star W Hya using data obtained by the HIFI, PACS, and SPIRE instruments onboard the Herschel Space Observatory and ground-based telescopes. $^{12}$CO and $^{13}$CO lines are used to constrain the intrinsic $^{12}$C/$^{13}$C ratio from resolved HIFI lines.
The acceleration of the outflow up to about 5.5 km/s is quite slow and can be represented by a beta-type velocity law with index 5. Beyond this point, acceleration up the terminal velocity of 7 km/s is faster. Using the J=10-9, 9-8, and 6-5 transitions, we find an intrinsic $^{12}$C/$^{13}$C ratio of $18\pm10$ for W Hya, where the error bar is mostly due to uncertainties in the $^{12}$CO abundance and the stellar flux around 4.6 $\mu$m. To match the low-excitation CO lines, these molecules need to be photo-dissociated at about 500 stellar radii. The radial dust emission intensity profile measured by PACS images at 70 $\mu$m shows substantially stronger emission than our model predicts beyond 20 arcsec.
The initial slow acceleration of the wind implies inefficient wind driving in the lower part of the envelope. The final injection of momentum in the wind might be the result of an increase in the opacity thanks to the late condensation of dust species. The derived intrinsic isotopologue ratio for W Hya is consistent with values set by the first dredge-up and suggestive of an initial mass of 2 M$_\odot$ or more. However, the uncertainty in the main-sequence mass derived based on this isotopologic ratio is large.

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T. Khouri, A. Koter, L. Decin, et. al.
Thu, 13 Mar 14