EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 503, Number 3, September I 2009
Page(s) L21 - L24
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912822
Published online 03 August 2009
A&A 503, L21-L24 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912822


Probing populations of red giants in the galactic disk with CoRoT

A. Miglio1, J. Montalbán1, F. Baudin2, P. Eggenberger1, 3, A. Noels1, S. Hekker4, 5, 6, J. De Ridder5, W. Weiss7, and A. Baglin8

1  Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique de l'Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août 17, 4000 Liège, Belgium
    e-mail: a.miglio@ulg.ac.be
2  Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS), Bâtiment 121, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
3  Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
4  Royal Observatory of Belgium, Ringlaan 3, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
5  Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
6  School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
7  Institute for Astronomy, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstrasse 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
8  LESIA, UMR8109, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université Denis Diderot, Observatoire de Paris, 92195 Meudon, France

Received 3 July 2009 / Accepted 26 July 2009

Context. The detection with CoRoT of solar-like oscillations in nearly 800 red giants in the first 150-days long observational run paves the way for detailed studies of populations of galactic-disk red giants.
Aims. We investigate which information on the observed population can be recovered by the distribution of the observed seismic constraints: the frequency of maximum oscillation power ( $\nu_\mathrm{max}$) and the large frequency separation ($\Delta\nu$).
Methods. We propose to use the observed distribution of $\nu_\mathrm{max}$ and of $\Delta\nu$ as a tool for investigating the properties of galactic red-giant stars through comparison with simulated distributions based on synthetic stellar populations.
Results. We can clearly identify the bulk of the red giants observed by CoRoT as red-clump stars, i.e. post-flash core-He-burning stars. The distribution of $\nu_\mathrm{max}$ and of $\Delta\nu$ gives us access to the distribution of the stellar radius and mass, and thus represent a most promising probe of the age and star formation rate of the disk, and of the mass-loss rate during the red-giant branch.
Conclusions. CoRoT observations are supplying seismic constraints for the most populated class of He-burning stars in the galactic disk. This opens a new access gate to probing the properties of red-giant stars that, coupled with classical observations, promises to extend our knowledge of these advanced phases of stellar evolution and to add relevant constraints to models of composite stellar populations in the Galaxy.

Key words: stars: fundamental parameters -- stars: horizontal-branch -- stars: mass-loss -- stars: oscillations -- galaxy: disk -- galaxy: stellar content

© ESO 2009

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