The Spitzer spectroscopic survey of S-type stars

K. Smolders, P. Neyskens, J. A D L Blommaert, S. Hony, H. Van Winckel, L. Decin, S. Van Eck, G. C. Sloan, J. Cami, S. Uttenthaler, P. Degroote, D. Barry, M. Feast, M. A T Groenewegen, M. Matsuura, J. Menzies, R. Sahai, J. Th Van Loon, A. A. Zijlstra, B. AckeS. Bloemen, N. Cox, P. De Cat, M. Desmet, K. Exter, D. Ladjal, R. Østensen, S. Saesen, F. Van Wyk, T. Verhoelst, W. Zima

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    Context. S-type AGB stars are thought to be in the transitional phase between M-type and C-type AGB stars. Because the composition of the circumstellar environment reflects the photospheric abundances, one may expect a strong influence of the stellar C/O ratio on the molecular chemistry and the mineralogy of the circumstellar dust. Aims. In this paper, we present a large sample of 87 intrinsic galactic S-type AGB stars, observed at infrared wavelengths with the Spitzer Space Telescope, and supplemented with ground-based optical data. Methods. On the one hand, we derive the stellar parameters from the optical spectroscopy and photometry, using a grid of model atmospheres. On the other, we decompose the infrared spectra to quantify the flux-contributions from the different dust species. Finally, we compare the independently determined stellar parameters and dust properties. Results. For the stars without significant dust emission features, we detect a strict relation between the presence of SiS absorption in the Spitzer spectra and the C/O ratio of the stellar atmosphere. These absorption bands can thus be used as an additional diagnostic for the C/O ratio. For stars with significant dust emission, we define three distinct groups, based on the relative contribution of certain dust species to the infrared flux. We find a strong link between group-membership and C/O ratio. Furthermore, we show that these groups can be explained by assuming that the dust-condensation can be cut short before silicates are produced, while the remaining free atoms and molecules can then be used to form the observed magnesium sulfides or the carriers of the unidentified 13 μm and 20 μm features. Finally, we present the detection of emission features attributed to molecules and dust characteristic to C-type stars, such as molecular SiS, hydrocarbons and magnesium sulfide grains. We show that we often detect magnesium sulfides together with molecular SiS and we propose that it is formed by a reaction of SiS molecules with Mg. © 2012 ESO.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberA72
    JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Circumstellar matter
    • Infrared: stars
    • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
    • Stars: mass-loss


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