What are the peculiar type-R stars made? Where does the carbon present in their shell come from? These are the questions to be solved by a research work conducted by scientists of the department of Theoretical and Cosmos Physics of the University of Granada (Spain), where they have analysed the chemical composition and the evolutionary state of spectral type R carbon stars to try to explain the origin of the carbon enrichment present in its atmosphere.
Up to now, there had hardly been performed chemical analysis for this type of start. Type-R stars are peculiar red giant stars, as they show a higher presence of carbon than oxygen in their atmosphere (the usual composition in the Universe is exactly the opposite). They can be classified in hot-R starts and cold-R stars, depending on their effective temperature.
In the case of R-cold stars, this is the first chemical analysis of these characteristics carried out worldwide, whereas for R-hot stars, the existing chemical analyses were very old (more than 25 years) and with a lower spectral resolution than that of the UGR study.
The research has been conducted by Olga Zamora Sánchez and supervised by professors Carlos Abia and Inmaculada Domínguez. The scientists of the University of Granada have also studied the essential observational features of type-R stars (distribution in the Milky Way, kinematics, luminosity, etc.) .A 23-star sample
Thus, the scientists have concluded that R-cold stars are identical to type-N stars (or normal carbon stars) originated in the AGB phase, whereas R-hot stars are different. About 40% of the R-hot stars of the sample were erroneously classified up now, and therefore the portion of these stars with regard to red giant stars could be considerably reduced regarding previous estimations thanks to this work.
Although the UGR scientists warn that this type of study has not immediate applications, the information obtained could be very valuable in the future as carbon, as everybody knows, is very important for the possible development of life in the Universe. Therefore, they say, explaining the origin of this element in the stars will be useful to study the production of one of the basic ingredients of life that we know.
The results of this research work will be sent for its publication in the near future in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Reference: Olga Zamora Sánchez. Department of Theoretical and Cosmos Physics of the University of Granada. Telephone number: 958249062. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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