The Mass Loss Return from Evolved Stars to the Large Magellanic Cloud: Empirical Relations for Excess Emission at 8 and 24 μm

Srinivasan, Sundar, Meixner, Margaret, Leitherer, Claus, Vijh, Uma, Volk, Kevin, Blum, Robert D., Babler, Brian L., Block, Miwa, Bracker, Steve, Cohen, Martin, Engelbracht, Charles W., For, Bi-Qing, Gordon, Karl D., Harris, Jason, Hora, Joseph L., Indebetouw, Remy, Markwick-Kemper, Francisca, Meade, Marilyn, Misselt, Karl A., Sewilo, Marta, & Whitney, Barbara
2009, The Astronomical Journal, 137, 4810


We present empirical relations describing excess emission from evolved stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope Surveying the Agents of a Galaxy's Evolution (SAGE) survey which includes the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) 3.6, 4.5, 5.8, and 8.0 μm and Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) 24, 70, and 160 μm bands. We combine the SAGE data with the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS; J, H, and K s) and the optical Magellanic Cloud Photometric Survey (MCPS; U, B, V, and I) point source catalogs in order to create complete spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star candidates in the LMC. AGB star outflows are among the main producers of dust in a galaxy, and this mass loss results in an excess in the fluxes observed in the 8 and 24 μm bands. The aim of this work is to investigate the mass loss return by AGB stars to the interstellar medium of the LMC by studying the dependence of the infrared excess flux on the total luminosity. We identify oxygen-rich, carbon-rich, and extreme AGB star populations in our sample based on their 2MASS and IRAC colors. The SEDs of oxygen- and carbon-rich AGB stars are compared with appropriate stellar photosphere models to obtain the excess flux in all the IRAC bands and the MIPS 24 μm band. Extreme AGB stars are dominated by circumstellar emission at 8 and 24 μm thus we approximate their excesses with the flux observed in these bands. We find about 16,000 O-rich, 6300 C-rich, and 1000 extreme sources with reliable 8 μm excesses, and about 4500 O-rich, 5300 C-rich, and 960 extreme sources with reliable 24 μm excesses. The excesses are in the range 0.1 mJy to 5 Jy. The 8 and 24 μm excesses for all three types of AGB candidates show a general increasing trend with luminosity. The color temperature of the circumstellar dust derived from the ratio of the 8 and 24 μm excesses decreases with an increase in excess, while the 24 μm optical depth increases with excess. The extreme AGB candidates are the major contributors to the mass loss, and we estimate the total AGB mass loss return to the LMC to be (5.9-13) × 10-3 M sun yr-1.

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