Authors: Fonfria, J. P.; DeWitt, C. N.; Montiel, E. J.; Cernicharo, J.; Richter, M. J.
Journal: ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS
Publication date: 2022/03/01
Abstract: We report the first detection of the S(1) pure rotational line of ortho-H-2 at 17.04 mu m in an asymptotic giant branch star, using observations of IRC+10216 with the Echelon-cross-echelle Spectrograph (EXES) mounted on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. This line, which was observed in a very high-sensitivity spectrum (rms noise similar or equal to 0.04% of the continuum), was detected in the wing of a strong telluric line and displayed a P Cygni profile. The spectral ranges around the frequencies of the S(5) and S(7) ortho-H-2 transitions were observed as well but no feature was detected in spectra with sensitivities of 0.12% and 0.09% regarding the continuum emission, respectively. We used a radiation transfer code to model these three lines and derived a mass-loss rate of (2.43 +/- 0.21) x 10(-5) M (circle dot) yr(-1) without using the CO abundance. The comparison of this rate with previous estimates derived from CO observations suggests that the CO abundance relative to H-2 is (6.7 +/- 1.4) x 10(-4). From this quantity and previously reported molecular abundances, we estimate the O/H and C/H ratios to be (3.3 +/- 0.7) x 10(-4) and >(5.2 +/- 0.9) x 10(-4), respectively. The C/O ratio is >1.5 +/- 0.4. The absence of the S(5) and S(7) lines of ortho-H-2 in our observations can be explained by the opacity of hot dust within 5 R from the center of the star. We estimate the intensity of the S(0) and S(2) lines of para-H-2 to be similar or equal to 0.1% and 0.2% of the continuum, respectively, which are below the detection limit of EXES.