EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 463, Number 3, March I 2007
Page(s) 1093 - 1109
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20066038

A&A 463, 1093-1109 (2007)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20066038

Statistical properties of a sample of periodically variable B-type supergiants

Evidence for opacity-driven gravity-mode oscillations
K. Lefever1, J. Puls2, and C. Aerts1, 3

1  Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
    e-mail: karolien@ster.kuleuven.be
2  Universitätssternwarte München, Scheinerstr. 1, 81679 München, Germany
3  Departement Astrofysica, Radboud Universiteit van Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands

(Received 14 July 2006/ Accepted 3 November 2006)

Aims.We have studied a sample of 28 periodically variable B-type supergiants selected from the HIPPARCOS mission and 12 comparison stars covering the whole B-type spectral range. Our goal is to test if their variability is compatible with opacity-driven non-radial oscillations.
Methods.We have used the NLTE atmosphere code FASTWIND to derive the atmospheric and wind parameters of the complete sample through line profile fitting. We applied the method to selected H, He, and Si line profiles, measured with the high resolution CES spectrograph attached to the ESO CAT telescope in La Silla, Chile.
Results.From the location of the stars in the ( $\log T_{\rm eff}$, log g) diagram, we suggest that variability of our sample supergiants is indeed due to the gravity modes resulting from the opacity mechanism. We find nine of the comparison stars to be periodically variable as well, and suggest them to be new $\alpha\,$Cyg variables. We find marginal evidence of a correlation between the amplitude of the photometric variability and the wind density. We investigate the wind momentum-luminosity relation for the whole range of B spectral type supergiants, and find that the later types (>B5) perfectly follow the relation for A supergiants. Additionally, we provide a new spectral type - $T_{\rm eff}$ calibration for B supergiants.
Conclusions.Our results imply the possibility of probing internal structure models of massive stars of spectral type B through seismic tuning of gravity modes.

Key words: stars: atmospheres -- stars: early-type -- stars: fundamental parameters -- stars: mass-loss -- stars: oscillations -- stars: variables: general

© ESO 2007

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