Dwarf carbon (dC) stars are believed to be main-sequence stars which have received carbon-rich material from a former AGB carbon star companion. We have computed model atmospheres, synthetic spectra, and colours for dC stars and compared them with observations. Our models are computed with an updated version of the MARCS code (Jørgensen et al. 1992, A&A 261, 263) and include atomic and molecular line blanketing, grain formation, and collision-induced absorption (CIA) processes (Borysow et al. 1997, A&A 324, 185). The models assume hydrostatic equilibrium, which for giant stars (i.e., high luminosity and low gravity) would be inconsistent with the inclusion of dust. Typical gravities of dC stars are, however, considerably larger than the acceleration due to radiation pressure even on dust grains with a relatively high absorption coefficient.
For the cooler solar metallicity models, grain formation can be substantial, but it depends strongly on the assumed type of dust. In a test model of Teff = 2800 K, C/O = 1.17, and log(g) = 5, 1% of the free carbon (i.e., that not bound in CO molecules) condensed when the dust was assumed to be amorphous carbon, whereas as much as 30% condensed when nano-diamonds (of the extra-solar form which are abundant in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites and are believed to have formed in stellar outflows) were allowedfor. This difference in degree of condensation is due to the very small diamond opacity compared to that of amorphous carbon. In both cases, however, the main effect of the dust was a 400 K heating of the surface layers. The dust itself is not clearly visible in the synthetic spectrum, but the heating and correspondingly reduced molecular partial pressures cause a weakeningof spectral features in the 3μm region (due mainly to reduced C2H2 abundance in the upper layers) and reduced CO fundamental and first overtone band intensities.