Recent supernova (SN) and transient surveys have revealed an increasing number of non-terminal stellar eruptions. Though the progenitor class of these eruptions includes the most luminous stars, little is known of the pre-SN mechanics of massive stars in their most evolved state, thus motivating a census of possible progenitors. From surveys of evolved and unstable luminous star populations in nearby galaxies, we select a sample of yellow and red supergiant (RSG) candidates in M31 and M33 for review of their spectral characteristics and spectral energy distributions (SEDs). Since the position of intermediate- and late-type supergiants on the color-magnitude diagram can be heavily contaminated by foreground dwarfs, we employ spectral classification and multi-band photometry from optical and near-infrared surveys to confirm membership. Based on spectroscopic evidence for mass loss and the presence of circumstellar (CS) dust in their SEDs, we find that 30%-40% of the yellow supergiants are likely in a post-RSG state. Comparison with evolutionary tracks shows that these mass-losing, post-RSGs have initial masses between 20 and 40 M. More than half of the observed RSGs in M31 and M33 are producing dusty CS ejecta. We also identify two new warm hypergiants in M31, J004621.05+421308.06 and J004051.59+403303.00, both of which are likely in a post-RSG state.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This paper uses data from the MODS1 spectrograph built with funding from NSF grant AST- 9987045 and the NSF Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP), with additional funds from the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio State University Office of Research. This publication also makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation, and from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
- galaxies: individual (M31, M33)
- stars: massive