Thursday, July 4, 2013

1307.0759 (C. Vamvatira-Nakou et al.)

Herschel imaging and spectroscopy of the nebula around the luminous blue variable star WRAY 15-751    [PDF]

C. Vamvatira-Nakou, D. Hutsemekers, P. Royer, Y. Naze, P. Magain, K. Exter, C. Waelkens, M. A. T. Groenewegen
We have obtained far-infrared Herschel PACS imaging and spectroscopic observations of the nebular environment of the luminous blue variable WRAY 15-751. These images clearly show that the main, dusty nebula is a shell of radius 0.5 pc and width 0.35 pc extending outside the H-alpha nebula. They also reveal a second, bigger and fainter dust nebula, observed for the first time. Both nebulae lie in an empty cavity, likely the remnant of the O-star wind bubble formed when the star was on the main sequence. The kinematic ages of the nebulae are about 20000 and 80000 years and each nebula contains about 0.05 Msun of dust. Modeling of the inner nebula indicates a Fe-rich dust. The far-infrared spectrum of the main nebula revealed forbidden emission lines coming from ionized and neutral gas. Our study shows that the main nebula consists of a shell of ionized gas surrounded by a thin photodissociation region illuminated by an "average" early-B star. The derived abundance ratios N/O=1.0+/-0.4 and C/O=0.4+/-0.2 indicate a mild N/O enrichment. We estimate that the inner shell contains 1.7+/-0.6 Msun of gas. Assuming a similar dust-to-gas ratio for the outer nebula, the total mass ejected by WRAY 15-751 amounts to 4+/-2 Msun. The measured abundances, masses and kinematic ages of the nebulae were used to constrain the evolution of the star and the epoch at which the nebulae were ejected. Our results point to an ejection of the nebulae during the RSG evolutionary phase of an ~ 40 Msun star. The presence of multiple shells around the star suggests that the mass-loss was not a continuous ejection but rather a series of episodes of extreme mass-loss. Our measurements are compatible with the recent evolutionary tracks computed for an 40 Msun star with little rotation. They support the O-BSG-RSG-YSG-LBV filiation and the idea that high-luminosity and low-luminosity LBVs follow different evolutionary paths.
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