Evolved massive stars at low metallicity. II. Red supergiant stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud

Yang, Ming; Bonanos, Alceste Z.; Jiang, Bi-Wei; Gao, Jian; Gavras, Panagiotis; Maravelias, Grigoris; Wang, Shu; Chen, Xiao-Dian; Tramper, Frank; Ren, Yi; Spetsieri, Zoi T.; Xue, Meng-Yao

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 639, A116 (2020)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


We present the most comprehensive red supergiant (RSG) sample for the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) to date, including 1239 RSG candidates. The initial sample was derived based on a source catalog for the SMC with conservative ranking. Additional spectroscopic RSGs were retrieved from the literature, and RSG candidates were selected based on the inspection of Gaia and 2MASS color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs). We estimate that there are in total ∼1800 or more RSGs in the SMC. We purify the sample by studying the infrared CMDs and the variability of the objects, though there is still an ambiguity between asymptotic giant branch stars (AGBs) and RSGs at the red end of our sample. One heavily obscured target was identified based on multiple near-IR and mid-IR (MIR) CMDs. The investigation of color-color diagrams shows that there are fewer RSGs candidates (∼4%) showing PAH emission features compared to the Milky Way and LMC (∼15%). The MIR variability of RSG sample increases with luminosity. We separate the RSG sample into two subsamples (risky and safe), and identify one M5e AGB star in the risky subsample based on simultaneous inspection of variabilities, luminosities, and colors. The degeneracy of mass loss rate (MLR), variability, and luminosity of the RSG sample is discussed, indicating that most of the targets with high variability are also the bright ones with high MLR. Some targets show excessive dust emission, which may be related to previous episodic mass loss events. We also roughly estimate the total gas and dust budget produced by entire RSG population as ∼1.9-1.1+2.4 × 10-6 M yr-1 in the most conservative case, according to the derived MLR from IRAC1-IRAC4 color. Based on the MIST models, we derive a linear relation between Teff and observed J – KS color with reddening correction for the RSG sample. By using a constant bolometric correction and this relation, the Geneva evolutionary model is compared with our RSG sample, showing a good agreement and a lower initial mass limit of ∼7 M for the RSG population. Finally, we compare the RSG sample in the SMC and the LMC. Despite the incompleteness of LMC sample in the faint end, the result indicates that the LMC sample always shows redder color (except for the IRAC1-IRAC2 and WISE1-WISE2 colors due to CO absorption) and higher variability than the SMC sample, which is likely due to a positive relation between MLR, variability and the metallicity.

Keywords: infrared: stars;Magellanic Clouds;stars: late-type;stars: massive;stars: mass-loss;stars: variables: general;Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;Astrophysics – Astrophysics of Galaxies

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