TEXES Observations of M Supergiants: Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Wind Acceleration

Research paper by G. M. Harper, M. J. Richter, N. Ryde, A. Brown, J. Brown, T. K. Greathouse, S. Strong

Indexed on: 24 Jun '09Published on: 24 Jun '09Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics


We have detected [Fe II] 17.94 um and 24.52 um emission from a sample of M supergiants using TEXES on the IRTF. These low opacity emission lines are resolved at R = 50, 000 and provide new diagnostics of the dynamics and thermodynamics of the stellar wind acceleration zone. The [Fe II] lines, from the first excited term, are sensitive to the warm plasma where energy is deposited into the extended atmosphere to form the chromosphere and wind outflow. These diagnostics complement previous KAO and ISO observations which were sensitive to the cooler and more extended circumstellar envelopes. The turbulent velocities, Vturb is about 12 to 13 km/s, observed in the [Fe II] forbidden lines are found to be a common property of our sample, and are less than that derived from the hotter chromospheric C II] 2325 Angstrom lines observed in alpha Ori, where Vturb is about 17 to 19 km/s. For the first time, we have dynamically resolved the motions of the dominant cool atmospheric component discovered in alpha Ori from multi-wavelength radio interferometry by Lim et al. (1998). Surprisingly, the emission centroids are quite Gaussian and at rest with respect to the M supergiants. These constraints combined with model calculations of the infrared emission line fluxes for alpha Ori imply that the warm material has a low outflow velocity and is located close to the star. We have also detected narrow [Fe I] 24.04 um emission that confirms that Fe II is the dominant ionization state in alpha Ori's extended atmosphere.