The Extreme Scarcity of Dust-enshrouded Red Supergiants: Consequences for Producing Stripped Stars via Winds

Emma R. Beasor, Nathan Smith
2022 Astrophysical Journal  
Quiescent mass loss during the red supergiant (RSG) phase has been shown to be far lower than prescriptions typically employed in single-star evolutionary models. Importantly, RSG winds are too weak to drive the production of Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars and stripped-envelope supernovae (SE-SNe) at initial masses of roughly 20–40 M ⊙. If single stars are to make WR stars and SE-SNe, this shifts the burden of mass loss to rare dust-enshrouded RSGs (DE-RSGs), objects claimed to represent a short-lived,
more » ... igh-mass-loss phase. Here, we take a fresh look at the purported DE-RSGs. By modeling the mid-IR excesses of the full sample of RSGs in the Large Magellanic Cloud, we find that only one RSG has both a high mass-loss rate ( M ̇ ≥ 10−4 M ⊙ yr−1) and a high optical circumstellar dust extinction (7.92 mag). This RSG is WOH G64, and it is the only one of the 14 originally proposed DE-RSGs that is actually dust enshrouded. The rest appear to be either normal RSGs without strong IR excess, or lower-mass asymptotic giant branch stars. Only one additional object in the full catalog of RSGs (not previously identified as a DE-RSG) shows strong mid-IR excess. We conclude that if DE-RSGs do represent a pre-SN phase of enhanced M ̇ in single stars, it is extremely short-lived, only capable of removing ≤2 M ⊙ of material. This rules out the single-star post-RSG pathway for the production of WR stars, luminous blue variables, and SE-SNe. Single-star models should not employ M ̇ -prescriptions based on these extreme objects for any significant fraction of the RSG phase.
doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac6dcf fatcat:2qsckczd5bhmljmggik4fxv7jy