Time, spatial, and spectral resolution of the Hα line-formation region of Deneb and Rigel with the VEGA/CHARA interferometer *
UMR 6525 H. Fizeau, Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis, CNRS, Observatoire de la
Côte d'Azur, Av. Copernic, 06130 Grasse, France e-mail: Olivier.Chesneau@oca.eu
2 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, Université de Provence, CNRS, 38 rue Frédéric Joliot-Curie, 13388 Marseille Cedex 13, France
3 Castanet Tolosan Observatory, 6 place Clemence Isaure, 31320 Castanet Tolosan, France
4 Observatório Nacional, Rua General José Cristino 77, 20921-400 São Cristovão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 Max-Planck Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
6 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (LAOG), Université Joseph-Fourier, UMR 5571 CNRS, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 09, France
7 Univ. Lyon 1, Observatoire de Lyon, 9 avenue Charles André, 69230 Saint-Genis Laval, France
8 Georgia State University, PO Box 3969, Atlanta GA 30302-3969, USA
9 CHARA Array, Mount Wilson Observatory, 91023 Mount Wilson CA, USA
Accepted: 10 June 2010
Context. BA-type supergiants are amongst the most optically-bright stars. They are observable in extragalactic environments, hence potential accurate distance indicators.
Aims. An extensive record of emission activity in the Hα line of the BA supergiants β Orionis (Rigel, B8Ia) and α Cygni (Deneb, A2Ia) is indicative of localized time-dependent mass ejections. However, little is known about the spatial distribution of these apparent structures. Here, we employ optical interferometry to study the Hα line-formation region in these stellar environments.
Methods. High spatial- (~0.001) and spectral- (R = 30 000) resolution observations of Hα were obtained with the visible recombiner VEGA installed on the CHARA interferometer, using the S1S2 array-baseline (34 m). Six independent observations were done on Deneb during the years 2008 and 2009, and two of Rigel in 2009. We analyze this dataset with the 1D non-LTE radiative-transfer code cmfgen, and assess the impact of the wind on the visible and near-IR interferometric signatures, using both Balmer-line and continuum photons.
Results. We observe a visibility decrease in Hα for both Rigel and Deneb, suggesting that the line-formation region is extended (~1.5–1.75 ). We observe a significant visibility decrease for Deneb in the Siii 6371 Å line. We witness time variations in the differential phase for Deneb, implying an inhomogeneous and unsteady circumstellar environment, while no such variability is seen in differential visibilities. Radiative-transfer modeling of Deneb, with allowance for stellar-wind mass loss, accounts fairly well for the observed decrease in the Hα visibility. Based on the observed differential visibilities, we estimate that the mass-loss rate of Deneb has changed by less than 5%.
Key words: techniques: interferometric / stars: early-type / stars: mass-loss / stars: individual: HD 34085 / stars: individual: HD 197345 / circumstellar matter
© ESO, 2010