Asymmetries on red giant branch surfaces from CHARA/MIRC optical interferometry
1 Université Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, Lagrange, CS 34229 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
2 CHARA and Department of Physics & Astronomy, Georgia State University, PO Box 4106, Atlanta, GA 30302-4106, USA
3 Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique, 300 rue de la Piscine, 38406 Saint-Martin d’Hères, France
4 Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille) UMR 7326, 13388 Marseille, France
5 Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Schmiedlstrasse 6, 8042 Graz, Austria
6 Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía (UMI 3386), CNRS/INSU, France & Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Camino El Observatorio 1515, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
7 LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS UMR 8109, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
8 Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, 918 Dennison Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1090, USA
9 The CHARA Array of Georgia State University, Mount Wilson, CA 91023, USA
10 Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
11 Centre for Star and Planet Formation, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5−7, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark
12 Stellar Astrophysics Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Ny Munkegade 120, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
13 Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Australian National University, Cotter Road, Weston ACT 2611, Australia
Received: 13 January 2017
Accepted: 6 March 2017
Context. Red giant branch (RGB) stars are very bright objects in galaxies and are often used as standard candles. Interferometry is the ideal tool to characterize the dynamics and morphology of their atmospheres.
Aims. We aim at precisely characterising the surface dynamics of a sample of RGB stars.
Methods. We obtained interferometric observations for three RGB stars with the MIRC instrument mounted at the CHARA interferometer. We looked for asymmetries on the stellar surfaces using limb-darkening models.
Results. We measured the apparent diameters of HD 197989 (ϵ Cyg) = 4.61 ± 0.02 mas, HD 189276 (HR 7633) = 2.95 ± 0.01 mas, and HD 161096 (β Oph) = 4.43 ± 0.01 mas. We detected departures from the centrosymmetric case for all three stars with the tendency of a greater effect for lower logg of the sample. We explored the causes of this signal and conclude that a possible explanation to the interferometric signal is the convection-related and/or the magnetic-related surface activity. However, it is necessary to monitor these stars with new observations, possibly coupled with spectroscopy, in order to firmly establish the cause.
Key words: techniques: interferometric / infrared: stars / stars: atmospheres / stars: individual: HD 197989 / stars: individual: HD 189276 / stars: individual: HD 161096
© ESO, 2017