Spitzer spectra of evolved stars in ω Centauri and their low-metallicity dust production

I. Mcdonald, J. Th van Loon, G. C. Sloan, A. K. Dupree, A. A. Zijlstra, M. L. Boyer, R. D. Gehrz, A. Evans, C. E. Woodward, C. I. Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Dust production is explored around 14 metal-poor ([Fe/H]=-1.91 to -0.98) giant stars in the Galactic globular cluster ω Centauri using new Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph spectra. This sample includes the cluster's post-asymptotic giant branch (AGB) and carbon stars and is thus the first representative spectral study of dust production in a metal-poor ([Fe/H] <-1) population. Only the more metal-rich stars V6 and V17 ([Fe/H]=-1.08, -1.06) exhibit silicate emission, while the five other stars with mid-infrared excess show only a featureless continuum which we argue is caused by metallic iron dust grains. We examine the metallicity of V42, and find it is likely part of the metal-rich population ([Fe/H]∼-0.8). Aside from the post-AGB star V1, we find no star from the cluster's bulk, metal-poor ([Fe/H] <-1.5) population - including the carbon stars - to be producing detectable amounts of dust. We compare the dust production to the stars' Hα line profiles obtained at the Magellan/Clay telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, finding pulsation shocking in the strongest pulsators (V6, V17 and V42), but evidence of outflow in all other stars. We conclude that the onset of dust production does not signify a fundamental change in the material leaving the star. Our data add to a growing body of evidence that metallic iron dominates dust production in metal-poor, oxygen-rich stars, but that dust is probably not the primary accelerant of winds in this mass-metallicity regime. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-31
    Number of pages11
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


    • Circumstellar matter
    • Globular clusters: general
    • Infrared: stars
    • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
    • Stars: mass-loss
    • Stars: winds, outflows


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