C, N and O abundances in red clump stars of the Milky Way

Research paper by G. Tautvaisiene, B. Edvardsson, E. Puzeras, G. Barisevicius, I. Ilyin

Indexed on: 23 Jul '10Published on: 23 Jul '10Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics


The Hipparcos orbiting observatory has revealed a large number of helium-core-burning "clump" stars in the Galactic field. These low-mass stars exhibit signatures of extra-mixing processes that require modeling beyond the first dredge-up of standard models. The 12C/13C ratio is the most robust diagnostic of deep mixing, because it is insensitive to the adopted stellar parameters. In this work we present 12C/13C determinations in a sample of 34 Galactic clump stars as well as abundances of nitrogen, carbon and oxygen. Abundances of carbon were studied using the C2 Swan (0,1) band head at 5635.5 A. The wavelength interval 7980-8130 A with strong CN features was analysed in order to determine nitrogen abundances and 12C/13C isotope ratios. The oxygen abundances were determined from the [O I] line at 6300 A. Compared with the Sun and dwarf stars of the Galactic disk, mean abundances in the investigated clump stars suggest that carbon is depleted by about 0.2 dex, nitrogen is enhanced by 0.2 dex and oxygen is close to abundances in dwarfs. Comparisons to evolutionary models show that the stars fall into two groups: the one is of first ascent giants with carbon isotope ratios altered according to the first dredge-up prediction, and the other one is of helium-core-burning stars with carbon isotope ratios altered by extra mixing. The stars investigated fall to these groups in approximately equal numbers.