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Characterising the AGB bump and its potential to constrain mixing processes in stellar interiors

G. Dréau, Y. Lebreton, B. Mosser, D. Bossini, J. Yu

Context. In the 1990s, theoretical studies motivated the use of the asymptotic giant branch bump (AGBb) as a standard candle given the weak dependence between its luminosity and stellar metallicity. Because of the small size of observed asymptotic giant branch (AGB) samples, detecting the AGBb is not an easy task. However, this has now been made possible thanks to the wealth of data collected by the CoRoT, Kepler, and TESS space-borne missions.
Aims. It is well-known that the AGB bump provides valuable information on the internal structure of low-mass stars, particularly on mixing processes such as core overshooting during the core He-burning phase. Here, we investigate the dependence of the AGBb position on stellar parameters such as the stellar mass and metallicity based on the calibration of stellar models to observations.
Methods. In this context, we analysed ∼4000 evolved giants observed by Kepler and TESS, including red giant branch (RGB) stars and AGB stars, for which asteroseismic and spectrometric data are available. By using statistical mixture models, we detected the AGBb both in frequency at maximum oscillation power, νmax, and in effective temperature, Teff. Then, we used the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA) stellar evolution code to model AGB stars and match the AGBb occurrence with observations.
Results. From the observations, we were able to derive the AGBb location in 15 bins of mass and metallicity. We noted that the higher the mass, the later the AGBb occurs in the evolutionary track, which agrees with theoretical works. Moreover, we found a slight increase in the luminosity at the AGBb when the metallicity increases. By fitting those observations with stellar models, we noticed that low-mass stars (M ≤ 1.0 M) require a small core overshooting region during the core He-burning phase. This core overshooting extent increases toward high mass; however, above M ≥ 1.5 M, we found that the AGBb location cannot be reproduced with a realistic He-core overshooting alone. Thus, additional mixing processes have to be invoked instead.
Conclusions. The observed dependence on metallicity complicates the application of the AGBb as a standard candle. Moreover, different mixing processes may occur according to stellar mass. At low mass (M ≤ 1.5 M), the AGBb location can be used to constrain the He-core overshooting. At high mass (M ≥ 1.5 M), an additional mixing induced, for instance, by rotation is needed to reproduce what is seen in observations.

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

Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume 668, Article Number A115, Number of pages 20
2022 December

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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