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New paper: Environments of evolved massive stars – evidence for episodic mass ejections

A proceedings paper from IAUS 366 that took place virtually back in October 2021 (for which I had another poster contribution) was finally published at the end of 2022. It summarizes a collective work led by Michaela on B[e] Supergiants and Yellow Hypergiants, two massive star phases where we observe episodic mass loss.

Environments of evolved massive stars: evidence for episodic mass ejections

M. Kraus, L. S. Cidale, M. L. Arias, A. F. Torres, I. Kolka, G. Maravelias, D. H. Nickeler, W. Glatzel and T. Liimets

The post-main sequence evolutionary path of massive stars comprises various transition phases, in which the stars shed large amounts of material into their environments. Our studies focus on two of them: B[e] supergiants and yellow hypergiants, for which we investigate the structure and dynamics within their environments. We find that each B[e] supergiant is surrounded by a unique set of rings or arc-like structures. These structures are either stable over time or they display high variability, including expansion and dilution. In contrast, yellow hypergiants are embedded in multiple shells of gas and dust. These objects are famous for their outburst activity. Moreover, the dynamics in their extended atmospheres imply an enhanced pulsation activity prior to outburst. The physical mechanism(s) leading to episodic mass ejections in these two types of stars is still uncertain. We propose that strange-mode instabilities, excited in the inflated envelopes of these objects, play a significant role.

Figure 1. Real parts (= pulsation periods, left panel) and the imaginary parts (right panel) of
the eigenfrequencies, which are normalized to the global free-fall time. Positive imaginary parts
correspond to damped modes, and negative ones to unstable modes. The computations have
been performed for T eff = 7000 K and log L/L  = 5.7, matching the observed values of ρ Cas.

IAUS 366, 2022 (NASA/ADS link)