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Preprint 02/07

Discovery of photospheric argon in very hot central stars of planetary nebulae and white dwarfs

K. Werner (1), T. Rauch (1), J.W. Kruk (2)

(1) Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Universität Tübingen
(2) Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

To be published in: A&A

Abstract. We report the first discovery of argon in hot evolved stars and white dwarfs. We have identified the ArVII 1063.55A line in some of the hottest known (Teff=95000-110000 K) central stars of planetary nebulae and (pre-) white dwarfs of various spectral type. We determine the argon abundance and compare it to theoretical predictions from stellar evolution theory as well as from diffusion calculations. We analyze high-resolution spectra taken with the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer. We use non-LTE line-blanketed model atmospheres and perform line-formation calculations to compute synthetic argon line profiles. We find a solar argon abundance in the H-rich central star NGC1360 and in the H-deficient PG1159 star PG1424+535. This confirms stellar evolution modeling that predicts that the argon abundance remains almost unaffected by nucleosynthesis. For the DAO-type central star NGC7293 and the hot DA white dwarfs PG0948+534 and REJ1738+669 we find argon abundances that are up to three orders of magnitude smaller than predictions of calculations assuming equilibrium of radiative levitation and gravitational settling. For the hot DO white dwarf PG1034+001 the theoretical overprediction amounts to one dex. Our results confirm predictions from stellar nucleosynthesis calculations for the argon abundance in AGB stars. The argon abundance found in hot white dwarfs, however, is another drastic example that the current state of equilibrium theory for trace elements fails to explain the observations quantitatively.

Preprint (115 kb PDF file including figures)
Astrophysics (astro-ph): astro-ph/0702387

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