Dust from evolved stars: a pilot analysis of the AGB to PN transition

Dell'Agli, F.; Tosi, S.; Kamath, D.; Stanghellini, L.; Bianchi, S.; Ventura, P.; Marini, E.; García-Hernández, D. A.
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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We present a novel approach to address dust production by low- and intermediate-mass stars. We study the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) phase, during which the formation of dust takes place, from the perspective of post-AGB and planetary nebula (PN) evolutionary stage. Using results from stellar evolution and dust formation modelling, we interpret the spectral energy distribution of carbon-dust-rich sources currently evolving through different evolutionary phases, believed to descend from progenitors of similar mass and chemical composition. Comparing the results of different stages along the AGB to PNe transition, we can provide distinct insights on the amount of dust and gas released during the very late AGB phases. While the post-AGB traces the history of dust production back to the tip of the AGB phase, investigating the PNe is important to reconstruct the mass-loss process experienced after the last thermal pulse. The dust surrounding the post-AGB was formed soon after the tip of the AGB. The PNe dust-to-gas ratio is ~10-3, 2.5 times smaller than what expected for the same initial mass star during the last AGB interpulse, possibly suggesting that dust might be destroyed during the PN phase. Measuring the amount of dust present in the nebula can constrain the capacity of the dust to survive the central star heating.
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Low- to intermediate-mass (M < 8 solar masses, Ms) stars represent the majority of stars in the Cosmos. They finish their lives on the Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) - just before they form planetary nebulae (PNe) - where they experience complex nucleosynthetic and molecular processes. AGB stars are important contributors to the enrichment of the
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