Modelling of the ultraviolet and visual SED variability in the hot magnetic Ap star CU Virginis
1 Department of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic
2 Observatory and Planetarium of J. Palisa, VŠB – Technical University, Ostrava, Czech Republic
3 Institut für Astronomie, Universität Wien, Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1180 Wien, Austria
4 Institute of Astrophysics, Georg-August-University, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
5 Tatranská Lomnica 133, 05960, Slovak Republic
6 Astronomical Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Tatranská Lomnica, 05960, Slovak Republic
7 Central Astronomical Observatory at Pulkovo, St. Petersburg 196140, Russia
Received: 16 June 2011
Accepted: 20 October 2011
Context. The spectral energy distribution (SED) in chemically peculiar stars may be significantly affected by their abundance anomalies. The observed SED variations are usually assumed to be a result of inhomogeneous surface distribution of chemical elements, flux redistribution and stellar rotation. However, the direct evidence for this is still only scarce.
Aims. We aim to identify the processes that determine the SED and its variability in the UV and visual spectral domains of the helium-weak star CU Vir.
Methods. We used the TLUSTY model atmospheres calculated for the appropriate surface chemical composition to obtain the emergent flux and predict the rotationally modulated flux variability of the star.
Results. We show that most of the light variations in the vby filters of the Strömgren photometric system are a result of the uneven surface distribution of silicon, chromium, and iron. Our models are only able to explain a part of the variability in the u filter, however. The observed UV flux distribution is very well reproduced, and the models are able to explain most of the observed features in the UV light curve, except for the region 2000−2500 Å, where the amplitude of the observed light variations is higher than predicted. The variability observed in the visible is merely a faint gleam of that in the UV. While the amplitude of the light curves reaches only several hundredths of magnitude in the visual domain, it reaches about 1 mag in the UV.
Conclusions. The visual and UV light variability of CU Vir is caused by the flux redistribution from the far UV to near UV and visible regions, inhomogeneous distribution of the elements and stellar rotation. Bound-free transitions of silicon and bound-bound transitions of iron and chromium contribute the most to the flux redistribution. This mechanism can explain most of the rotationally modulated light variations in the filters centred on the Paschen continuum and on the UV continuum of the star CU Vir. However, another mechanism(s) has to be invoked to fully explain the observed light variations in the u filter and in the region 2000−2500 Å.
Key words: stars: chemically peculiar / stars: early type / stars: atmospheres / stars: variables: general / stars: individual CU Virginis
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