EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 445, Number 3, January III 2006
Page(s) 1099 - 1126
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20053832

A&A 445, 1099-1126 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20053832

Quantitative spectroscopy of BA-type supergiants

N. Przybilla1, K. Butler2, S. R. Becker2 and R. P. Kudritzki3

1  Dr. Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, Sternwartstr. 7, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
    e-mail: przybilla@sternwarte.uni-erlangen.de
2  Universitäts-Sternwarte München, Scheinerstraße 1, 81679 München, Germany
3  Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

(Received 15 July 2005 / Accepted 12 September 2005)

Luminous BA-type supergiants have enormous potential for modern astrophysics. They allow topics ranging from non-LTE physics and the evolution of massive stars to the chemical evolution of galaxies and cosmology to be addressed. A hybrid non-LTE technique for the quantitative spectroscopy of these stars is discussed. Thorough tests and first applications of the spectrum synthesis method are presented for the bright Galactic objects $\eta$ Leo (A0 Ib), HD 111613 (A2 Iabe), HD 92207 (A0 Iae) and $\beta$ Ori (B8 Iae), based on high-resolution and high-S/N Echelle spectra. Stellar parameters are derived from spectroscopic indicators, consistently from multiple non-LTE ionization equilibria and Stark-broadened hydrogen line profiles, and they are verified by spectrophotometry. The internal accuracy of the method allows the 1$\sigma$-uncertainties to be reduced to $\la$1-2% in  $T_{\rm eff}$ and to 0.05-0.10 dex in $\log g$. Elemental abundances are determined for over 20 chemical species, with many of the astrophysically most interesting in non-LTE (H, He, C, N, O, Mg, S, Ti, Fe). The non-LTE computations reduce random errors and remove systematic trends in the analysis. Inappropriate LTE analyses tend to systematically underestimate iron group abundances and overestimate the light and $\alpha$-process element abundances by up to factors of two to three on the mean. This is because of the different responses of these species to radiative and collisional processes in the microscopic picture, which is explained by fundamental differences of their detailed atomic structure, and not taken into account in LTE. Contrary to common assumptions, significant non-LTE abundance corrections of ~0.3 dex can be found even for the weakest lines ( $W_{\lambda}\la 10$ mÅ). Non-LTE abundance uncertainties amount to typically 0.05-0.10 dex (random) and ~0.10 dex (systematic 1$\sigma$-errors). Near-solar abundances are derived for the heavier elements in the sample stars, and patterns indicative of mixing with nuclear-processed matter for the light elements. These imply a blue-loop scenario for $\eta$ Leo because of first dredge-up abundance ratios, while the other three objects appear to have evolved directly from the main sequence. In the most ambitious computations several ten-thousand spectral lines are accounted for in the spectrum synthesis, permitting the accurate reproduction of the entire observed spectra from the visual to near-IR. This prerequisite for the quantitative interpretation of intermediate-resolution spectra opens up BA-type supergiants as versatile tools for extragalactic stellar astronomy beyond the Local Group. The technique presented here is also well suited to improve quantitative analyses of less extreme stars of similar spectral types.

Key words: stars: supergiants -- stars: early-type -- stars: atmospheres -- stars: fundamental parameters -- stars: abundances -- stars: evolution

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