Sulphur-bearing molecules in AGB stars I. The occurrence of hydrogen sulphide

T. Danilovich, M. Van De Sande, E. De Beck, L. Decin, H. Olofsson, S. Ramstedt, T. J. Millar

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Context. Sulphur is a relatively abundant element in the local Galaxy that is known to form a variety of molecules in the circumstellar envelopes of AGB stars. The abundances of these molecules vary based on the chemical types and mass-loss rates of AGB stars. Aims. Through a survey of (sub-)millimetre emission lines of various sulphur-bearing molecules, we aim to determine which molecules are the primary carriers of sulphur in different types of AGB stars. In this paper, the first in a series, we investigate the occurrence of H2S in AGB circumstellar envelopes and determine its abundance, where possible. Methods. We surveyed 20 AGB stars with a range of mass-loss rates and different chemical types using the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope to search for rotational transition lines of five key sulphur-bearing molecules: CS, SiS, SO, SO2, and H2S. Here we present our results for H2S, including detections, non-detections, and detailed radiative transfer modelling of the detected lines. We compared results based on various descriptions of the molecular excitation of H2S and different abundance distributions, including Gaussian abundances, where possible, and two different abundance distributions derived from chemical modelling results. Results. We detected H2S towards five AGB stars, all of which have high mass-loss rates of M ≥ 5 × 10-6 M yr-1 and are oxygen rich. H2S was not detected towards the carbon or S-type stars that fall in a similar mass-loss range. For the stars in our sample with detections, we find peak o-H2S abundances relative to H2 between 4 × 10-7 and 2.5 × 10-5. Conclusions. Overall, we conclude that H2S can play a significant role in oxygen-rich AGB stars with higher mass-loss rates, but is unlikely to play a key role in stars of other chemical types or in lower mass-loss rate oxygen-rich stars. For two sources, V1300 Aql and GX Mon, H2S is most likely the dominant sulphur-bearing molecule in the circumstellar envelope.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA124
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Early online date24 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: mass-loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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