BD-21°3873: Another yellow-symbiotic barium star

V. V. Smith, K. Cunha, A. Jorissen, H. M.J. Boffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


An abundance analysis of the yellow symbiotic system BD-21°3873 reveals it to be a metal-poor K-giant ([Fe/H] =-1.3) which is enriched in the heavy s-process elements. In that respect, this star appears to be a twin of AG Dra, another yellow symbiotic system analyzed in a previous paper (Smith et al., 1996). The heavy-element abundance distributions of AG Dra and BD-21°3873 are almost identical, and are best reproduced by a s-process with a neutron exposure parameter of 1.2 -1.3 mb-1 and a neutron density log Nn = 8.3 (as derived from the Rb/Zr ratio). These two systems thus link the symbiotic stars to the binary barium and CH stars which are also s-process enriched. These binary systems, which exhibit overabundances of the heavy elements, owe their abundance peculiarities to mass transfer from thermally-pulsing asymptotic giant branch stars, which have since evolved to become white-dwarf companions of the cool stars we now view as the chemically-peculiar primaries. The spectroscopic orbits of BD-21°3873 (derived from CORAVEL measurements) and AG Dra are similar to those of barium and CH stars. With an orbital period of 281.6 d, BD-21°3873 is one of the closest systems in these families, and its light curve indeed suggests that variations due to reflection and ellipticity effects are present. The amplitude of the ellipsoidal variations indicates that the giant must be close to filling its Roche lobe. However, no acceptable solution simultaneously satisfies the constraints from the light curve, the orbital elements and the evolutionary tracks in the framework of the standard Roche lobe geometry. We suggest that this discrepancy may be resolved by taking into account the deformation of the Roche lobe caused by the force driving the large mass loss of the giant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries: symbiotic
  • Stars: abundances
  • Stars: individual: BD-21°3873
  • Stars: peculiar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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