Detection of highly excited OH towards AGB stars. A new probe of shocked gas in the extended atmospheres

T. Khouri, L. Velilla-Prieto, E. De Beck, W. H. T. Vlemmings, H. Olofsson, B. Lankhaar, J. H. Black, A. Baudry
2019 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
We report the detection and investigate the properties of high-excitation lambda-doubling line emission of hydroxyl (OH) detected towards three asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars (W Hya, R Dor, and IK Tau) using ALMA. The OH lines are produced very close to the central stars and seem optically thin and with no maser effect. We analyse the molecular excitation using population diagrams and find rotational temperatures of $\sim 2500$ K and column densities of $\sim 10^{19}$ cm$^{-2}$ for both W
more » ... $^{-2}$ for both W Hya and R Dor. For W Hya, we observe emission from vibrationally excited H2O arising from the same region as the OH emission. Moreover, CO $v = 1; J = 3 - 2$ emission also shows a brightness peak in the same region. Considering optically thin emission and the rotational temperature derived for OH, we find a CO column density $\sim 15$ times higher than that of OH, within an area of ($92 \times 84$) mas$^2$ centred on the OH emission peak. These results should be considered tentative because of the simple methods employed. The observed OH line frequencies differ significantly from the predicted transition frequencies in the literature, and provide the possibility of using OH lines observed in AGB stars to improve the accuracy of the Hamiltonian used for the OH molecule. We predict stronger OH lambda-doubling lines at millimetre wavelengths than those we detected. These lines will be a good probe of shocked gas in the extended atmosphere and are possibly even suitable as probes of the magnetic field in the atmospheres of close-by AGB stars through the Zeeman effect.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201935049 fatcat:bgut6zp7yrd5vmuexupblcdcpy