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Molecular and Dusty Layers of Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars Studied with the VLT Interferometer
NAVAL OBSERVATORY WASHINGTON DC
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Mass loss from asymptotic giant branch AGB stars is the most important driver for the evolution of low to intermediate mass stars towards planetary nebulae. It is also one of the most important sources of chemical enrichment of the interstellar medium. The mass-loss process originates in the extended atmosphere, whose structure is affected by stellar pulsations, and where molecular and dusty layers are formed. Optical interferometry resolves the extended atmospheres of AGB stars and thereby enables us to obtain measurements of the intensity profile across this region. We present an overview of recent results from our spectro-interferometric observations of AGB stars using the near-and mid-infrared instruments AMBER and MIDI of the VLT Interferometer.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE