EDP Sciences
Free access
Issue
A&A
Volume 507, Number 2, November IV 2009
Page(s) 833 - 840
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/20079144
Published online 15 September 2009
A&A 507, 833-840 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/20079144

The interstellar Ca II distance scale

A. Megier1, A. Strobel1, G. A. Galazutdinov2, and J. Krełowski1

1  Nicolaus Copernicus University, Center for Astronomy, Gagarina 11, 87-100 Toruń, Poland
    e-mail: jacek@astri.uni.torun.pl
2  Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 151-747, Korea
    e-mail: runizag@gmail.com

Received 26 November 2007 / Accepted 7 July 2009

Abstract
Aims. We attempt to extend the relation between the strengths of the interstellar $\ion{Ca}{ii}$ lines and the distances to early-type stars to objects beyond 1 kiloparsec, with the line saturation taken into account.
Methods. We measure the $\ion{Ca}{ii}$ K and $\ion{Ca}{ii}$ H equivalent widths, and compute $\ion{Ca}{ii}$ column densities for 262 lines of sight towards early-type stars with available Hipparcos parallaxes ($\pi$). The targets are located within a few hundred parsecs of the Galactic plane, and span all the range of Galactic longitudes. We fit the $N_{\ion{Ca}{ii}}$ – parallax relation with a function of the form $\pi = 1 / (a \cdot N_{\ion{Ca}{ii}} + b)$, using a maximum-likelihood approach to take account of errors in both variables. We use the resultant formula to estimate distances to stars in OB associations and clusters, and compare them to those found in the literature, usually estimated by spectrophotometric methods.
Results. For lines of sight with EW(K)/EW(H) > 1.3, we obtain the following approximate formula for the distance: $D_{\ion{Ca}{ii}} = 77 +
(2.78 + \frac{2.60}{\frac{EW(K)}{EW(H)} - 0.932}) EW(H)$, where the equivalent widths EW(K) and EW(H) are in mÅ, and the distance  $D_{\ion{Ca}{ii}}$ in parsecs. The errors in  $D_{\ion{Ca}{ii}}$, resulting from the uncertainty in the fit parameters and errors in the equivalent widths, are typically about 15% of the distance. We can also expect the equation not to hold for objects situated farther than a few hundred parsecs from the Galactic plane. We find several cases of significant column density differences between association or cluster members, especially notable in the Trumpler 16 cluster, indicating either a local contribution to the $\ion{Ca}{ii}$ column density, or background/foreground stars being confused with members. The ratio  $D_{\ion{Ca}{ii}}/D_{\rm assoc}$ appears to depend on the Galactic longitude, being highest in the range 70$^{\circ}$ < l < 120$^{\circ}$ and lowest for 200$^{\circ}$ < l < 300$^{\circ}$. This effect may be due to large-scale structure being present in the $\ion{Ca}{ii}$ layer, or to the nonmember confusion being enhanced in these directions.


Key words: ISM: lines and bands -- stars: distances -- stars: early-type -- open clusters and associations: general



© ESO 2009

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