We use medium-band near-infrared (NIR) Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 photometry with model NIR spectra of asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars to develop a new tool for efficiently distinguishing carbon-rich (C-type) AGB stars from oxygen-rich (M-type) AGB stars in galaxies at the edge of and outside the Local Group. We present the results of a test of this method on a region of the inner disk of M31, where we find a surprising lack of C stars, contrary to the findings of previous C star searches in other regions of M31. We find only one candidate C star (plus up to six additional, less certain C star candidates), resulting in an extremely low ratio of C to M stars (C/M = (3.3^{+20}_{-0.1})\times 10^{-4}) that is one to two orders of magnitude lower than other C/M estimates in M31. The low C/M ratio is likely due to the high metallicity in this region which impedes stars from achieving C/O > 1 in their atmospheres. These observations provide stringent constraints to evolutionary models of metal-rich AGB stars and suggest that there is a metallicity threshold above which M stars are unable to make the transition to C stars, dramatically affecting AGB mass loss and dust production and, consequently, the observed global properties of metal-rich galaxies.

### IS THERE A METALLICITY CEILING TO FORM CARBON STARS?—A NOVEL TECHNIQUE REVEALS A SCARCITY OF C STARS IN THE INNER M31 DISK

#### Abstract

We use medium-band near-infrared (NIR) Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 photometry with model NIR spectra of asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars to develop a new tool for efficiently distinguishing carbon-rich (C-type) AGB stars from oxygen-rich (M-type) AGB stars in galaxies at the edge of and outside the Local Group. We present the results of a test of this method on a region of the inner disk of M31, where we find a surprising lack of C stars, contrary to the findings of previous C star searches in other regions of M31. We find only one candidate C star (plus up to six additional, less certain C star candidates), resulting in an extremely low ratio of C to M stars (C/M = (3.3^{+20}_{-0.1})\times 10^{-4}) that is one to two orders of magnitude lower than other C/M estimates in M31. The low C/M ratio is likely due to the high metallicity in this region which impedes stars from achieving C/O > 1 in their atmospheres. These observations provide stringent constraints to evolutionary models of metal-rich AGB stars and suggest that there is a metallicity threshold above which M stars are unable to make the transition to C stars, dramatically affecting AGB mass loss and dust production and, consequently, the observed global properties of metal-rich galaxies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2683718
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