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Paper: Chromospheres and Winds of Red Supergiants: An Empirical Look at Outer Atmospheric Structure
Volume: 425, Hot and Cool: Bridging Gaps in Massive Star Evolution
Page: 181
Authors: Bennett, P. D.
Abstract: Stars between about 4 and 25 solar masses spend a significant fraction of their post-main-sequence lifetime as red supergiants (RSGs) and lose material via stellar winds during this period. For RSGs more massive than 10 solar masses, this mass loss becomes of evolutionary significance, and probably determines the upper mass limit of RSGs in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Despite decades of observations, the driving mechanism responsible for mass loss in RSGs remains unknown. Mainly this is because the optical spectrum accessible from the ground provides almost no useful wind diagnostics, and what information is obtained is spatially averaged over the entire wind volume. However, within the last decade, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations of many useful ultraviolet wind diagnostics have been obtained at a high signal-to-noise ratio and spectral resolution. In particular, RSGs in eclipsing binaries can provide spatially resolved observations of stellar chromospheres and winds. I review possible RSG wind acceleration mechanisms, discuss some observational constraints, and present some empirical models of RSG chromospheres and winds.
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