Mass loss from dust-enshrouded Asymptotic Giant Branch stars and red supergiants in the Large Magellanic Cloud
The process of mass-loss from evolved stars is the single largest contributor of matter
back into the ISM. Intense mass-loss during the AGB phase of low-intermediate mass
stars via a radiatively-driven wind can lead the stars to become enshrouded in an
optically-thick layer of dust which condenses out of an extended molecular atmosphere.
This thesis attempts to gain further insights into the mass-loss process that is presently
We used the Parkes radio telescope to observe dust-enshrouded AGB stars and
supergiants in the LMC and SMC, deriving the speed of the superwind from the doublepeaked
OH maser profiles. Out of 8 targets in the LMC we detected 5, of which 3 are
new detections. Our results confirm the simple theory for radiatively driven winds,
this verifies the scaling relations we use in determining mass-loss rates and allows us
to speculate on the chemical enrichment at different metallicities.
From investigating mass-loss from clusters in the Magellanic Clouds we find that
the mass-loss rate increases with larger progenitor mass, possibly due to a dependence
on the initial metallicity or the stellar luminosity. We investigate the dust-enshrouded
carbon star LI-LMC 1813 in more depth and derive an accurate mass-loss rate and the
stellar parameters, mass and metallicity. It is now one of the few AGB stars currently
undergoing the superwind phase for which values for the fundamental astrophysical
parameters are known.
With the ESO Very Large Telescope we obtained 3-4/-Lm spectra of IR stars in
the LMC. 28 of 30 targets are identified as carbon stars, significantly adding to the
known population of optically invisible carbon stars in the LMC. We find evidence for
a high abundance of C2H2, suggestive of high carbon-to-oxygen abundance ratios at
the low metallicity which would explain the large population of carbon stars.