EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 499, Number 1, May III 2009
Page(s) 291 - 299
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200810319
Published online 01 April 2009
A&A 499, 291-299 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200810319

Parameters of galactic early B supergiants

The influence of the wind on the interstellar extinction determination
M. Kraus1, M. Borges Fernandes2, 3, and J. Kubát1

1  Astronomický ústav, Akademie věd České republiky, Fričova 298, 251 65 Ondřejov, Czech Republic
    e-mail: [kraus;kubat]@sunstel.asu.cas.cz
2  UMR 6525 H. Fizeau, Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis, CNRS, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Av. Copernic, 06130 Grasse, France
    e-mail: Marcelo.Borges@obs-azur.fr
3  Royal Observatory of Belgium, Ringlaan 3, 1180 Brussels, Belgium

Received 3 June 2008 / Accepted 16 February 2009

Context. The interstellar extinction, E(B-V), of OB supergiants is usually derived from the observed color index, (B-V), in comparison with the intrinsic one. This method works properly only if the stellar wind does not influence the optical continuum emission. Over the past years, many OB supergiants have been found to have wind-velocity distributions with rather high $\beta$ values; i.e., their winds are only slowly accelerating, resulting in relative density enhancements within the wind-continuum forming region. It has been found that these kinds of winds might indeed influence the total continuum emission even at optical wavelengths.
Aims. We investigate the influence of the wind on the observed color indices of OB supergiants, in order to distinguish between interstellar and circumstellar extinction contributions.
Methods. We first tested the influence of the wind on the UBV band fluxes of a model O supergiant star with artificial winds of different $\beta$ values and a fixed interstellar extinction value. From the UBV magnitudes of these systems, the apparent interstellar extinction was then derived by calculating the values of E(B-V), from the (B-V) as well as from the (U-B) color index. Then we turned to a sample of galactic early-type B supergiants for which the stellar and wind parameters are known. All except one of these stars have $\beta$ values higher than 1.0, which makes this set the most suitable one for our investigation. We calculated each star's wind contribution to the BV band fluxes. The observed magnitudes were corrected for the wind contributions, and the interstellar extinctions were derived and compared with those derived purely from the (B-V) color index.
Results. From our model supergiant, we find that with increasing $\beta$ the wind starts to influence the observable color indices. The wavelength dependence of the wind contribution is thereby different from that of the interstellar extinction contribution. Thus, the interstellar extinction values derived from the two color indices of our reddened star plus wind systems disagree. This effect is stronger for higher $\beta$. In addition, E(B-V) derived from the (B-V) color index always overestimates the real interstellar extinction. This trend is also found for the investigated B supergiant sample. Consequently, the luminosities of these stars are systematically overestimated. Our wind model always computes lower limits to the real wind contributions. This means that the real interstellar extinction values, hence the stellar luminosities of the studied B supergiant sample, might well be lower.

Key words: stars: early-type -- stars: fundamental parameters -- supergiants -- stars: winds, outflows

© ESO 2009