University of Kassel
Astrophysical High Resolution Mid-Infrared Observations - A Case Study of Late-type Stars
In the universe, chemistry starts when atoms are expelled from the hot inner regions of evolved stars and form molecules in the cooler outer atmospheres and stellar envelopes. Thus, at the end of their lifetime low and intermediate mass asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars and the more massive red super giants, are building up strong stellar winds which are major sources of small to intermediate sized molecules and dust in the universe. Especially molecules composed of refractory materials like metal atoms, carbon or silicon are crucial for dust formation. To understand these formation processes these precursor molecules need to be observed and identified which can be done at infrared wavelengths using high resolution spectrographs. We have investigated the late type stars Canis Majoris, and o-ceti (Mira) using the TEXES spectrograph on the infrared telescope IRTF. The observations will be discussed and related to recent experimental investigations in our laboratory and future EXES/SOFIA missions.