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Title: Dust production by evolved stars in the Local Group
Author: Jones, Olivia Charlotte
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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Stars on the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) lose a significant fraction of their mass to their surroundings through stellar winds. As a result, they are surrounded by circumstellar shells of gas and dust. This stellar mass loss replenishes and enriches the interstellar medium (ISM) with the products of stellar nucleosynthesis, progressively increasing its metallicity and thereby driving galactic chemical evolution. In this thesis I present a comprehensive study of oxygen-rich (O-rich) AGB stars and red supergiants (RSG) observed with the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph and Infrared Space Observatory Short Wavelength Spectrometer in the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and Galactic globular clusters; focusing on the composition of the dust in the circumstellar envelopes surrounding these stars. Combining spectroscopic and photometric observations with the GRAMS grid of radiative transfer models to derive (dust) mass-loss rates, I detect crystalline silicates in stars with dust mass-loss rates which span over a factor of 1000, down to rates of ~10^{-9} Msun/yr. Detections of crystalline silicates are more prevalent in higher mass-loss rate objects, and our results indicate that the dust mass-loss rate has a greater influence on the crystalline fraction than the gas mass-loss rate, suggesting that thermal annealing of amorphous silicate grains is the primary formation mechanism of crystalline silicates in such environments rather than the direct condensation of crystalline silicates from the gas phase. I also find that metallicity influences the composition of crystalline silicates, with enstatite seen increasingly at low metallicity, while forsterite becomes depleted at these metallicities due to the different chemical composition of the gas. To trace the evolution of alumina and silicate dust along the AGB, I present an alternative grid of MODUST radiative transfer-models for a range of dust compositions, mass-loss rates, dust shell inner radii and stellar parameters. Our analysis shows that the AKARI [11]-[15] versus [3.2]-[7] colour is a robust indicator of the fractional abundance of alumina in O-rich AGB stars. From the modelling, I show that a grain mixture consisting primarily of amorphous silicates, with contributions from amorphous alumina and metallic iron provides a good fit to the observed spectra of O-rich AGB stars in the LMC. In agreement with previous studies, we find a correlation between the dust composition and mass-loss rate; the lower the mass-loss rate the higher the percentage of alumina in the shell. Finally, I present mid-infrared observations of the Local Group dwarf elliptical galaxy M32; where I find a large population of dust-enshrouded stars. These observations will act as a pathfinder for future observations with the JWST and SPICA.
Supervisor: Zijlstra, Albert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dust ; AGB ; Evolved stars ; Circumstellar matter ; Magellanic Clouds ; M32 ; infrared: stars ; Radiative transfer