Towards a spectral technique for determining material geometry around evolved stars: Application to HD 179821

J. Nordhaus*, I. Minchev, B. Sargent, W. Forrest, E. G. Blackman, O. De Marco, J. Kastner, B. Balick, A. Frank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


HD 179821 is an evolved star of unknown progenitor mass range (either post-asymptotic giant branch or post-red supergiant) exhibiting a double-peaked spectral energy distribution (SED) with a sharp rise from ∼8 to 20 μm. Such features have been associated with ejected dust shells or inwardly truncated circumstellar discs. In order to compare SEDs from both systems, we employ a spherically symmetric radiative transfer code and compare it to a radiative, inwardly truncated disc code. As a case study, we model the broad-band SED of HD 179821 using both codes. Shortward of 40 μm, we find that both models produce equivalent fits to the data. However, longward of 40 μm, the radial density distribution and corresponding broad range of disc temperatures produce excess emission above our spherically symmetric solutions and observations. For HD 179821, our best fit consists of a Teff = 7000 K central source characterized by τV ∼ 1.95 and surrounded by a radiatively driven, spherically symmetric dust shell. The extinction of the central source reddens the broad-band colours so that they resemble a Teff = 5750 K photosphere. We believe that HD 179821 contains a hotter central star than previously thought. Our results provide an initial step towards a technique to distinguish geometric differences from spectral modelling. Journal compilation

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-722
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


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