DEATHSTAR: Nearby AGB stars with the Atacama Compact Array I. CO envelope sizes and asymmetries: A new hope for accurate mass-loss-rate estimates

This is the first publication of the DEATHSTAR project. The goal of the project is to reduce the uncertainties of observational estimates of mass-loss rates from Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars. Line emission from 12CO J=2-1 and 3-2 were mapped using the ACA. In this initial analysis, the emission distribution was fit to a Gaussian distribution in the uv-plane. Detailed radiative transfer analysis will be presented in the future. The axes of the best-fit Gaussian at the line center of the 12CO J=2-1 emission gives a first indication of the size of the emitting region. Furthermore, the fitting results, such as the major and minor axis, center position, and the goodness of fit across both lines, constrain the symmetry of the emission distribution. We find that the CO envelope sizes are, in general, larger for C-type than for M-type AGB stars, which is expected if the CO/H2 ratio is larger in C-type stars. Furthermore, a relation between the 12CO J=2-1 size and circumstellar density is shown that, while in broad agreement with photodissociation calculations, reveals large scatter and systematic differences between the stellar types. The majority of the sources have CO envelopes that are consistent with a spherically symmetric, smooth outflow. For about a third of the sources, indications of strong asymmetries are found. This is consistent with previous interferometric investigations of northern sources. Smaller scale asymmetries are found in a larger fraction of sources. These results for CO envelope radii and shapes can be used to constrain detailed radiative transfer modeling of the same stars so as to determine mass-loss rates that are independent of photodissociation models. For a large fraction of the sources, observations at higher spatial resolution will be necessary to further investigate the complex circumstellar dynamics revealed by our ACA observations.
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