Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, Northern Ireland
2 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6A 3K7, Canada e-mail: email@example.com
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
4 Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, CNRS UMR 8109, 92195, Meudon, France
5 Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia
6 Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Epping, NSW 1710, Australia
Accepted: 11 June 2009
Context. The line profiles of the stars with below a few can reveal direct signatures of local velocity fields such as convection in stellar atmospheres. This effect is well established in cool main sequence stars, and has been detected and studied in three A stars.
Aims. This paper reports observations of main sequence B, A and F stars (1) to identify additional stars with sufficiently low values of to search for spectral line profile signatures of local velocity fields and (2) to explore how the signatures of the local velocity fields in the atmosphere depend on stellar parameters such as effective temperature and peculiarity type.
Methods. We have carried out a spectroscopic survey of B and A stars of low at high resolution. Comparison of model spectra with those observed allows us to detect signatures of the local velocity fields such as asymmetric excess line wing absorption, best-fit parameter values that are found to be larger for strong lines than for weak lines, and discrepancies between observed and modelled line profile shapes.
Results. Symptoms of local atmospheric velocity fields are always detected through a non-zero microturbulence parameter for main sequence stars having below about 10 000 K, but not for hotter stars. Direct line profile tracers of the atmospheric velocity field are found in six very sharp-lined stars in addition to the three reported earlier. Direct signatures of velocity fields are found to occur in A stars with and without the Am chemical peculiarities, although the amplitude of the effects seems larger in Am stars. Velocity fields are also directly detected in spectral line profiles of A and early F supergiants, but without significant line asymmetries.
Conclusions. We confirm that several atmospheric velocity field signatures, particularly excess line wing absorption which is stronger in the blue line wing than in the red, are detectable in the spectral lines of main sequence A stars of sufficiently low . We triple the sample of A stars known to show these effects, which are found both in Am and normal A stars. We argue that the observed line distortions are probably due to convective motions reaching the atmosphere. These data still have not been satisfactorily explained by models of atmospheric convection, including numerical simulations.
Key words: convection / stars: atmospheres / stars: chemically peculiar / stars: abundances / stars: rotation / line: profiles
Based in part on observations obtained at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France, and the University of Hawaii.
© ESO, 2009