H12CN and H13CN excitation analysis in the circumstellar outflow of R Sculptoris⋆
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, 43992 Onsala, Sweden
Received: 14 October 2016
Accepted: 6 December 2016
Context. The 12CO/13CO isotopologue ratio in the circumstellar envelope (CSE) of asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars has been extensively used as the tracer of the photospheric 12C/13C ratio. However, spatially-resolved ALMA observations of R Scl, a carbon rich AGB star, have shown that the 12CO/13CO ratio is not consistent over the entire CSE. Hence, it can not necessarily be used as a tracer of the 12C/13C ratio. The most likely hypothesis to explain the observed discrepancy between the 12CO/13CO and 12C/13C ratios is CO isotopologue selective photodissociation by UV radiation. Unlike the CO isotopologue ratio, the HCN isotopologue ratio is not affected by UV radiation. Therefore, HCN isotopologue ratios can be used as the tracer of the atomic C ratio in UV irradiated regions.
Aims. We aim to present ALMA observations of H13CN(4–3) and APEX observations of H12CN(2–1), H13CN(2–1, 3–2) towards R Scl. These new data, combined with previously published observations, are used to determine abundances, ratio, and the sizes of line-emitting regions of the aforementioned HCN isotopologues.
Methods. We have performed a detailed non-LTE excitation analysis of circumstellar H12CN(J = 1–0, 2–1, 3–2, 4–3) and H13CN(J = 2–1, 3–2, 4–3) line emission around R Scl using a radiative transfer code based on the accelerated lambda iteration (ALI) method. The spatial extent of the molecular distribution for both isotopologues is constrained based on the spatially resolved H13CN(4–3) ALMA observations.
Results. We find fractional abundances of H12CN/H2 = (5.0 ± 2.0) × 10-5 and H13CN/H2 = (1.9 ± 0.4) × 10-6 in the inner wind (r ≤ (2.0 ± 0.25) ×1015 cm) of R Scl. The derived circumstellar isotopologue ratio of H12CN/H13CN = 26.3 ± 11.9 is consistent with the photospheric ratio of 12C/13C ~ 19 ± 6.
Conclusions. We show that the circumstellar H12CN/H13CN ratio traces the photospheric 12C/13C ratio. Hence, contrary to the 12CO/13CO ratio, the H12CN/H13CN ratio is not affected by UV radiation. These results support the previously proposed explanation that CO isotopologue selective-shielding is the main factor responsible for the observed discrepancy between 12C/13C and 12CO/13CO ratios in the inner CSE of R Scl. This indicates that UV radiation impacts on the CO isotopologue ratio. This study shows how important is to have high-resolution data on molecular line brightness distribution in order to perform a proper radiative transfer modelling.
Key words: stars: abundances / stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: individual: R Scl / binaries: general / circumstellar matter / stars: carbon
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