An Infrared Census of DUST in Nearby Galaxies with Spitzer (DUSTiNGS). IV. Discovery of High-redshift AGB Analogs

M. L. Boyer, K. B.W. McQuinn, M. A.T. Groenewegen, A. A. Zijlstra, P. A. Whitelock, J. Th Van Loon, G. Sonneborn, G. C. Sloan, E. D. Skillman, M. Meixner, I. McDonald, O. C. Jones, A. Javadi, R. D. Gehrz, N. Britavskiy, A. Z. Bonanos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The survey for DUST in Nearby Galaxies with Spitzer (DUSTiNGS) identified several candidate Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars in nearby dwarf galaxies and showed that dust can form even in very metal-poor systems (). Here, we present a follow-up survey with WFC3/IR on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), using filters that are capable of distinguishing carbon-rich (C--) stars from oxygen-rich (M-type) stars: F127M, F139M, and F153M. We include six star-forming DUSTiNGS galaxies (NGC 147, IC 10, Pegasus dIrr, Sextans B, Sextans A, and Sag DIG), all more metal-poor than the Magellanic Clouds and spanning 1 dex in metallicity. We double the number of dusty AGB stars known in these galaxies and find that most are carbon rich. We also find 26 dusty M-type stars, mostly in IC 10. Given the large dust excess and tight spatial distribution of these M-type stars, they are most likely on the upper end of the AGB mass range (stars undergoing Hot Bottom Burning). Theoretical models do not predict significant dust production in metal-poor M-type stars, but we see evidence for dust excess around M-type stars even in the most metal-poor galaxies in our sample (). The low metallicities and inferred high stellar masses (up to ∼10 ) suggest that AGB stars can produce dust very early in the evolution of galaxies (∼30 Myr after they form), and may contribute significantly to the dust reservoirs seen in high-redshift galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for HST program GO-14073 was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555. Analysis for this work made use of Astropy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013). We thank the referee for suggestions that improved the manuscript.


  • galaxies: dwarf
  • stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • stars: carbon
  • stars: mass-loss
  • techniques: photometric

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