Uncertainties on the theoretical predictions for classical Cepheid pulsational quantities*
Dipartimento di Fisica “Enrico Fermi”, Università di Pisa, largo Pontecorvo 3, Pisa 56127, Italy
2 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, via Moiariello 16, 80131 Napoli, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
3 INFN, Sezione di Pisa, Largo B. Pontecorvo 3, Pisa 56127, Italy
Accepted: 27 August 2009
Context. With their period-luminosity relation, “classical Cepheids” (CC) are the most common primary distance indicators within the Local Group, also providing an absolute calibration of important secondary distance indicators. However, the predicted position of these pulsators in the HR diagram, along the so called blue loop, that is the expected distribution of Cepheids within the instability strip is affected by several model inputs, reflecting upon the predicted PL relation.
Aims. The aim of this work is to quantitatively evaluate the effects on the theoretical PL relation of current uncertainties on the chemical abundances of Cepheids in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and on several physical assumptions adopted in the evolutionary models. We will separately analyse how the different factors influence the evolutionary and pulsational observables and the resulting PL relation.
Methods. To achieve this goal we computed new sets of updated evolutionary and pulsational models.
Results. As a result, we find that present uncertainties on the most relevant H and He burning reaction rates do not influence in a relevant way the loop extension in temperature. On the contrary, current uncertainties on the LMC chemical composition significantly affect the loop extension and also reflect in the morphology of the instability strip; however their influence on the predicted pulsational parameters is negligible. We also discussed how overshooting and mass loss, sometimes suggested as possible solutions for the long-standing problem of the Cepheid mass discrepancy, influence the ML relation and the pulsational parameters.
Conclusions. In summary, the present uncertainties on the physical inputs adopted in the evolutionary codes and in the LMC chemical composition are negligible for the prediction of the main pulsational properties. On the other hand, the inclusion of overshooting in the previous hydrogen burning phase and/or of mass loss is expected to significantly change the resulting theoretical pulsational scenario for Cepheids, as well as the calibration of their distance scale. These systematic effects are expected to influence the theoretical Cepheid calibration of the secondary distance indicators and in turn the resulting evaluation of the Hubble constant.
Key words: stars: variables: Cepheids / stars: evolution / stars: distances
© ESO, 2009