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Rubidium-rich asymptotic giant branch stars in the Magellanic Clouds

Dr. Aníbal García Hernández


Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars are a principal source of gas and dust input into the interstellar medium, being an important driver of chemical evolution in galaxies. Rubidium is a key element to distinguish between high mass (~4-8 M⊙) AGB stars and low mass (~1-4 M⊙) AGBs - high mass AGBs are predicted to produce a lot of rubidium as a consequence of the genuine nucleosynthetic processes (the s-process) that characterise these stars. The Magellanic Clouds (MCs) offer a unique opportunity to study the stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis of AGB stars in low metallicity environments where distances (and so the star's luminosity) are known. We present the discovery of extragalactic rubidium-rich AGB stars in the MCs confirming that the more massive AGB stars are generally brighter than the standard adopted luminosity limit (Mbol~-7.1) for AGB's. In addition, massive MC-AGBs are more enriched in Rb than their galactic counterparts, as it is qualitatively predicted by the present theoretical models; the Rb over-abundance increase with increasing stellar mass and with decreasing metallicity. However, present theoretical models are far from matching the extremely high Rb overabundances observed.