A newly discovered stellar type: dusty post-red giant branch stars in the Magellanic Clouds

D. Kamath, P. R. Wood, H. Van Winckel, J. D. Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context. We present a newly discovered class of low-luminosity, dusty, evolved objects in the Magellanic Clouds. These objects have dust excesses, stellar parameters, and spectral energy distributions similar to those of dusty post-asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) stars. However, they have lower luminosities and hence lower masses. We suggest that they have evolved off the red giant branch (RGB) instead of the AGB as a result of binary interaction. Aims. In this study we aim to place these objects in an evolutionary context and establish an evolutionary connection between RGB binaries (such as the sequence E variables) and our new sample of objects. Methods. We compared the theoretically predicted birthrates of the progeny of RGB binaries to the observational birthrates of the new sample of objects. Results. We find that there is order-of-magnitude agreement between the observed and predicted birthrates of post-RGB stars. The sources of uncertainty in the birthrates are discussed; the most important sources are probably the observational incompleteness factor and the post-RGB evolution rates. We also note that mergers are relatively common low on the RGB and that stars low on the RGB with mid-IR excesses may recently have undergone a merger. Conclusions. Our sample of dusty post-RGB stars most likely provides the first observational evidence for a newly discovered phase in binary evolution: post-RGB binaries with circumstellar dust.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL5
Number of pages5
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume586
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Binaries: general
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • Methods: numerical
  • Methods: observational
  • Stars: evolution

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