A Radiative Instability in Post-shock-cooling Circumstellar Gas

V. Schirrmacher, P. Woitke, E. Sedlmayr

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Investigations on non-LTE radiative heating and cooling processes behind shock waves in circumstellar environments have revealed the existence of a radiative/thermal instability in the post-shock cooling gas. The results have been obtained in the framework of spherical symmetric, hydrodynamical model calculations for dust-enshrouded circumstellar envelopes (CSEs) of Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars, which combine a time-dependent treatment of dust formation with grey radiative transfer and tabulated non-LTE state functions. The instability occurs in a situation, where thin and hot atomic gas behind a shock wave cools down to the molecular domain where it remains in pressure equilibrium with its environment. Radiative cooling in this case causes a temperature decrease and a density increase which both favour molecule formation. The molecules, in return, accelerate the radiative cooling. Thereby, a self-amplifying feedback loop is established, which in the model leads to the amplification of small density fluctuations in the post-shock cooling region to large density inhomogeneities of more than one order of magnitude. This radiative/thermal instability is not restricted to one spatial dimension (as in the model) and is possibly capable to generate a strongly non-homogeneous density distribution around pulsating stars, which can, for example lead to dust cloud formation. In this presentation, we discuss the parameter range for this instability as well as the underlying thermodynamical concept of the model calculations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomische Gesellschaft Abstract Series
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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