Photospheric opacity and over-expanded envelopes of asymptotic giant branch stars

Noam Soker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


I suggest that the behavior of the photospheric opacity in oxygen-rich (similar to solar abundance) upper asymptotic giant branch stars may cause these stars to substantially expand for a few thousand years. I term this process over-expansion. This may occur when the photospheric (effective) temperature drops to Tp ∼ 3000 K, and because the opacity sharply increases as temperature further decreases down to Tp ∼ 2000 K. The much higher opacity implies a much lower photospheric density, which stabilizes the envelope structure. As mass loss proceeds, the star eventually contracts to become a post-asymptotic giant branch star. Some possible outcomes of the over-expanded phase are discussed: (1) The over-expanded phase may be connected to the formation of semi-periodic concentric arcs (rings; shells); (2) the over-expanded phase may be related to the positive correlation between the mass loss rate and the transition to axisymmetric mass loss geometry; and (3) an over-expanded asymptotic giant branch star, which doubles its radius, is somewhat more likely to swallow a low mass companion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-403
Number of pages8
JournalNew Astronomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


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

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