This award will support an observational program to learn about mass loss in the late stages of evolution of intermediate-mass stars, especially those in the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) phase of evolution. The project focuses on three main questions: (1) how each generation of stars returns nuclear-processed and unprocessed material to the interstellar medium; (2) how much dust is produced in the winds from cool, luminous giants; and (3) how mass loss depends on the chemical abundances of the parent stars. The first phases of observations will be conducted in the near-infrared, with later follow-up observations on the new Atacama Large Millimetre-submillimetre Array (ALMA).
The study of dying stars has many implications for stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, and nucleosynthesis. Undergraduate students will participate in all stages of the project.