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Seismic constraints on the internal structure of evolved stars: From high-luminosity RGB to AGB stars

G. Dréau, B. Mosser, Y. Lebreton, C. Gehan, T. Kallinger

Context. The space-borne missions CoRoT and Kepler opened up a new opportunity for better understanding stellar evolution by probing stellar interiors with unrivalled high-precision photometric data. Kepler has observed stellar oscillation for four years, which gave access to excellent frequency resolution that enables deciphering the oscillation spectrum of evolved red giant branch and asymptotic giant branch stars.
Aims. The internal structure of stars in the upper parts of the red and asymptotic giant branches is poorly constrained, which makes the distinction between red and asymptotic giants difficult. We perform a thorough seismic analysis to address the physical conditions inside these stars and to distinguish them.
Methods. We took advantage of what we have learnt from less evolved stars. We studied the oscillation mode properties of ∼2.000 evolved giants in a model described by the asymptotic pressure-mode pattern of red giants, which includes the signature of the helium second-ionisation zone. Mode identification was performed with a maximum cross-correlation method. Then, the modes were fitted with Lorentzian functions following a maximum likelihood estimator technique.
Results. We derive a large set of seismic parameters of evolved red and asymptotic giants. We extracted the mode properties up to the degree ℓ = 3 and investigated their dependence on stellar mass, metallicity, and evolutionary status. We identify a clear difference in the signature of the helium second-ionisation zone between red and asymptotic giants. We also detect a clear shortage of the energy of ℓ = 1 modes after the core-He-burning phase. Furthermore, we note that the mode damping observed on the asymptotic giant branch is similar to that observed on the red giant branch.
Conclusions. We highlight that the signature of the helium second-ionisation zone varies with stellar evolution. This provides us with a physical basis for distinguishing red giant branch stars from asymptotic giants. Here, our investigation of stellar oscillations allows us to constrain the physical processes and the key events that occur during the advanced stages of stellar evolution, with emphasis on the ascent along the asymptotic giant branch, including the asymptotic giant branch bump.

asteroseismology / stars: evolution / stars: late-type / stars: interiors / stars: AGB and post-AGB / stars: oscillations

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Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume 650, Article Number A115, Number of pages 19
2021 June

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia