Dust formation and inhomogeneous mass-loss from asymptotic giant branch stars

Noam Soker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We examine the flow from asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars when along a small solid angle the optical depth resulting from dust is very large. We consider two types of flows. In the first, small cool spots are formed on the surface of slowly rotating AGB stars. Large quantities of dust are expected to be formed above the surface of these cool spots. We propose that if the dust formation occurs during the last AGB phase when the mass-loss rate is high, the dust shields the region above it from the stellar radiation. This leads to both further dust formation in the shaded region and, owing to lower temperature and pressure, the convergence of the stream toward the shaded region, and the formation of a flow having a higher density than its surroundings. This density contrast can be as high as ∼4. A concentration of magnetic cool spots toward the equator will lead to a density contrast of up to a few between the equatorial and polar directions. This process can explain the positive correlation between high mass-loss rate and a larger departure from sphericity in progenitors of elliptical planetary nebulae. In the second type of flow, the high density in the equatorial plane is formed by a binary interaction, where the secondary star is close to, but outside the AGB envelope. The shielding of the radiation by dust results in a very slow and dense flow in the equatorial plane. We suggest this flow as an alternative explanation for the equatorial dense matter found at several hundred astronomical units around several post-AGB binary systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Feb 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Planetary nebulae: general
  • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • Stars: mass-loss

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