EDP Sciences
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Volume 462, Number 1, January IV 2007
Page(s) 269 - 280
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20065564

A&A 462, 269-280 (2007)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20065564

Hot subdwarfs from the ESO supernova Ia progenitor survey

II. Atmospheric parameters of subdwarf O stars
A. Stroeer1, 2, U. Heber1, T. Lisker1, 3, R. Napiwotzki1, 4, S. Dreizler5, N. Christlieb6, and D. Reimers6

1  Dr. Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, Astronomical Institute of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Sternwartstraße 7, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
    e-mail: heber@sternwarte.uni-erlangen.de
2  School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B29 4PT, UK
3  Astronomical Institute, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Basel, Venusstrasse 7, 4102 Binningen, Switzerland
4  Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK
5  Institut für Astrophysik, University of Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
6  Hamburger Sternwarte, Universität Hamburg, Gojensbergweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany

(Received 8 May 2006 / Accepted 20 September 2006)

Aims. We address the origin and evolutionary status of hot subdwarf stars by studying the optical spectral properties of 58 subdwarf O (sdO) stars. Combining them with the results of our previously studied subdwarf B (sdB) stars, we aim at investigating possible evolutionary links.
Methods.We analyse high-resolution ( $R > 18\,000$), high-quality optical spectra of sdO stars obtained with the ESO VLT UVES echelle spectrograph in the course of the ESO Supernova Ia Progenitor Survey (SPY). Effective temperatures, surface gravities, and photospheric helium abundances are determined simultaneously by fitting the profiles of hydrogen and helium lines using dedicated synthetic spectra calculated from an extensive grid of NLTE model atmospheres.
Results. We find spectroscopic or photometric evidence for cool companions to eight sdO stars, as well as a binary consisting of two sdO stars. A clear correlation between helium abundances and the presence of carbon and/or nitrogen lines is found: below solar helium abundance, no sdO star shows C or N lines. In contrast, C and/or N lines are present in the spectra of all sdO stars with supersolar helium abundance. We thus use the solar helium abundance to divide our sample into helium-deficient and helium-enriched sdO stars. While helium-deficient sdO stars are scattered in a wide range of the ${T_{\rm eff}}$-log(g)-diagram, most of the helium-enriched sdO stars cluster in a narrow region at temperatures between 40 000 and 50 000 K and gravities between $\log g=5.5$ and 6.0.
Conclusions. An evolutionary link between sdB stars and sdO stars appears plausible only for the helium-deficient sdO stars. They probably have evolved away from the extreme horizontal branch; i.e., they are the likely successors to sdB stars. In contrast, the atmospheric properties of helium-enriched sdO stars cannot be explained with canonical single-star evolutionary models. Alternative scenarios for both single-star (late hot flasher) and binary evolution (white-dwarf merger; post-RGB evolution) fail to reproduce the observed properties of helium-enriched sdO stars in detail. While we regard the post-RGB scenario as inappropriate, the white-dwarf merger and the late hot-flasher scenarios remain viable to explain the origin of helium-enriched sdO stars.

Key words: binaries: spectroscopic -- stars: abundances -- stars: atmospheres -- stars: fundamental parameters -- stars: horizontal-branch -- stars: subdwarfs

© ESO 2007