High-resolution HST/ACS images of detached shells around carbon stars

H. Olofsson, M. Maercker, K. Eriksson, B. Gustafsson, F. Schöier
2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
Aims: The detached shells carry information on their formation process, as well as on the small-scale structure of the circumstellar medium around AGB stars due to the absence of significant line-of-sight confusion. Methods: The youngest detached shells, those around the carbon stars R Scl and U Cam, are studied here in great detail in scattered stellar light with the Advanced Survey Camera on the Hubble Space Telescope. Quantitative results are derived assuming optically thin dust scattering.
more » ... n dust scattering. Results: The detached dust shells around R Scl and U Cam are found to be consistent with an overall spherical symmetry. They have radii of 19.2" (corresponding to a linear size of 8x10^16 cm) and 7.7" (5x10^16 cm), widths of 1.2" (5x10^15 cm) and 0.6" (4x10^15 cm), and dust masses of 3x10^-6 and 3x10^-7 M(Sun), respectively. The dynamical ages of the R Scl and U Cam shells are estimated to be 1700 and 700 yr, respectively, and the shell widths correspond to time scales of 100 and 50 yr, respectively. Small-scale structure in the form of less than arcsec-sized clumps is clearly seen in the images of the R Scl shell. Average clump dust masses are estimated to be about 2x10^-9 M(Sun). Comparisons with CO line interferometer data show that the dust and gas shells coincide spatially, within the errors (<=1" for U Cam and approx. 2" for R Scl). Conclusions: The results are consistent with the interpretation of geometrically thin gas and dust shells formed by a mass-loss eruption during a He-shell flash, and where interaction with a previous wind plays a role as well. Clumpy structure is present in the R Scl shell, possibly as a consequence of the mass loss itself, but more likely as a consequence of instabilities in the expanding shell.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200913929 fatcat:qqiij3r3frgh7jogb3567iqhhe