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Session 12 - Stellar Evolution - Theory.
Display session, Wednesday, January 07
A bulk movement of mass constitutes a momentum flow. An instructive instance occurs in the radial pulsation of stars and white dwarfs, where a symmetric contraction phase implies the existence of an inwardly- directed radial momentum flow, that is followed during the subsequent expansion by an outwardly-directed flow. The key notion here is that an inward flow is effectively transmitted through the center to become in turn an outward flow: in adiabatic processes the momentum flux is not cancelled simply because it arrives at the center. However, during the radial pulsation of AGB stars momentum is cancelled in atmospheric shock-waves and consumed in work against gravity while mass is lifted far enough away from the star for dust to form, whereon radiation pressure drives it away. These momentum-dissipative conditions at the outer boundary therefore require a stellar source of radially directed momentum if pulsation is to continue in an AGB star. A sufficient source is found in the contraction of the whole of the electron-degenerate core of an AGB star under the addition of He ashes from shell-hydrogen burning. This produces an inwardly- directed radial momentum flow that must reach the center. Lewis quantifies the resulting momentum flux (http://xxx.lanl.gov/ps/astro-ph /9707233), and finds that it easily suffices to support the mass-loss of every AGB star. But it is necessary to assume that most of the inwardly directed flux is transmitted through the center to become in turn an outwardly directed flux. The AGB core maintains its virial equilibrium by exporting its excess momentum flux to the stellar envelope. This mechanism explains the dependence of the mass-loss rate from AGB stars on core mass; its generalization to objects with angular momentum and/or strong magnetic fields suggests a novel explanation for the axial symmetry exhibited by most planetary nebulae and proto planetary nebulae. Gravitational contraction can also account for the momentum flux in the solar wind.
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