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Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik

Abteilung Astronomie

Sand 1, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany
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Preprint 07/14

The rapid evolution of the exciting star of the Stingray Nebula

N. Reindl (1), T. Rauch (1), M. Parthasarathy (2), K. Werner (1), J. W. Kruk (3), W.-R. Hamann (4), A. Sander (4) and H. Todt (4)

(1) Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany
(2) Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Ganeshkhind, Inia
(3) NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, USA
(4) Institute for Physics and Astronomy, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

A&A 565 (2014), A40

Abstract. SAO244567, the exciting star of the Stingray nebula, is rapidly evolving. Previous analyses suggested that it has heated up from an effective temperature of about 21kK in 1971 to over 50kK in the 1990s. Canonical post-asymptotic giant branch evolution suggests a relatively high mass while previous analyses indicate a low-mass star. Fitting line profiles from static and expanding non-LTE model atmospheres to the observed UV and optical spectra, taken during 1988-2013, allowed us to study the temporal change of effective temperature, surface gravity, mass-loss rate, and terminal wind velocity. In addition, we determined the chemical composition of the atmosphere. We find that the central star has steadily increased its effective temperature from 38kK in 1988 to a peak value of 60kK in 2002. During the same time, the star was contracting, as concluded from an increase in surface gravity from log g = 4.8 to 6.0 and a drop in luminosity. Simultaneously, the mass-loss rate declined from log (dM/dt/Msun/yr)=-9.0 to -11.6 and the terminal wind velocity increased from 1800km/s to 2800km/s. Since around 2002, the star stopped heating and has cooled down again to 55kK by 2006. It has a largely solar surface composition with the exception of slightly subsolar carbon, phosphorus, and sulfur. By comparison with stellar-evolution calculations, we confirm that SAO244567 must be a low-mass star (M < 0.55 Msun). However, the slow evolution of the respective stellar evolutionary models is in strong contrast to the observed fast evolution and the young planetary nebula with a kinematical age of only about 1000 years. We speculate that the star could be a late He-shell flash object. Alternatively, it could be the outcome of close-binary evolution. Then SAO244567 would be a low-mass (0.354 Msun) helium pre-white dwarf after the common-envelope phase, during which the planetary nebula was ejected.
Key words: stars: abundances, stars: evolution, stars: AGB and post-AGB, stars: individual: SAO 244567, stars: fundamental parameters, planetary nebulae: individual: Stingray nebula (Henize 3-1357)

Preprint (590 kb PDF file including figures)

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