The VLT-FLAMES survey of massive stars: constraints on stellar evolution from the chemical compositions of rapidly rotating Galactic and Magellanic Cloud B-type stars *,**
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics & Physics, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK e-mail: email@example.com
2 Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584CC, Utrecht, The Netherlands
3 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
4 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
5 UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ, UK
6 Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Accepted: 5 January 2009
Aims. We have previously analysed the spectra of 135 early B-type stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and found several groups of stars that have chemical compositions that conflict with the theory of rotational mixing. Here we extend this study to Galactic and Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) metallicities.
Methods. We provide chemical compositions for ~50 Galactic and ~100 SMC early B-type stars and compare these to the LMC results. These samples cover a range of projected rotational velocities up to ~300 km s-1 and hence are well suited to testing rotational mixing models. The surface nitrogen abundances are utilised as a probe of the mixing process since nitrogen is synthesized in the core of the stars and mixed to the surface.
Results. In the SMC, we find a population of slowly rotating nitrogen-rich stars amongst the early B type core-hydrogen burning stars, which is comparable to that found previously in the LMC. The identification of non-enriched rapid rotators in the SMC is not possible due to the relatively high upper limits on the nitrogen abundance for the fast rotators. In the Galactic sample we find no significant enrichment amongst the core hydrogen-burning stars, which appears to be in contrast with the expectation from both rotating single-star and close binary evolution models. However, only a small number of the rapidly rotating stars have evolved enough to produce a significant nitrogen enrichment, and these may be analogous to the non-enriched rapid rotators previously found in the LMC sample. Finally, in each metallicity regime, a population of highly enriched supergiants is observed, which cannot be the immediate descendants of core-hydrogen burning stars. Their abundances are, however, compatible with them having gone through a previous red supergiant phase. Together, these observations paint a complex picture of the nitrogen enrichment in massive main sequence and supergiant stellar atmospheres, where age and binarity cause crucial effects. Whether rotational mixing is required to understand our results remains an open question at this time, but could be answered by identifying the true binary fraction in those groups of stars that do not agree with single-star evolutionary models.
Key words: stars: early-type / stars: atmospheres / stars: rotation / stars: abundances / stars: evolution / galaxies: Magellanic Clouds
© ESO, 2009