University of Minnesota
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Michael S. Gordon

Luminous and Variable Stars in M31 and M33. III. The Yellow and Red Supergiants and Post-red Supergiant Evolution
Gordon, Michael S.; Humphreys, Roberta M.; Jones, Terry J., The Astrophysical Journal

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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.