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CW Leonis, IRC+10216

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 April 2016

G.R. Knapp
Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
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CW Leo is the nearest and brightest example of a highly evolved carbon Mira variable red giant, and is surrounded by an extensive dusty, molecular circumstellar shell produced by mass loss. Since the shell heavily obscures the star, most of the information about CW Leo comes from observations of its shell, whose radial properties encode a history of the star as well as of the interaction between the outflowing gas and the interstellar radiation field. The shell of CW Leo contains a rich variety of molecules, from salts to cyanide, whose isotopic composition shows the effect of nuclear processing in the stellar interior and give information about the formation and composition of the circumstellar dust. This nearby star allows us a detailed look at one of the most eventful and interesting phases in a star’s evolution.

Research Article
Copyright © Astronomical Society of the Pacific 2002


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