Volume 562, February 2014
|Number of page(s)
|19 February 2014
On the nature of sn stars
I. A detailed abundance study
Instituto de Ciencias Astronómicas, de la Tierra y del Espacio (ICATE), C.C 467, 5400 San Juan, Argentina
e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: 15 June 2013
Accepted: 2 January 2014
The sn stars were first discoved by Abt & Levato when studying the spectral types in different open clusters. These stars present sharp Balmer lines, sharp metallic lines (C II, Si II, Ca II, Ti II, Fe II), and broad coreless He I lines. Some of the sn stars seem to be related to CP stars. Initially Abt & Levato proposed a shell-like nature to explain the sn stars, although this scenario was subsequently questioned. There is no general agreement about their origin. We aim to derive abundances for a sample of 9 stars, including sn and non-sn stars, to determine the possible relation between sn and CP stars and compare their chemical abundances. That most sn stars belong to open clusters allows us to search for a possible relation with fundamental parameters, including the age and rotation. We also study the possible contribution of different effects to the broad He I lines observed in these stars, such as Stark broadening and the possible He-stratification. Effective temperature and gravity were estimated by Strömgren photometry and then refined by requiring ionization and excitation equilibrium of Fe lines. We derived the abundances by fitting the observed spectra with synthetic spectra using an iterative procedure with the SYNTHE and ATLAS9 codes. We derived metallic abundances of 23 different chemical elements for 9 stars and obtained low projected rotational velocities for the sn stars in our sample (vsini up to 69 km s-1). We also compared 5 stars that belong to the same cluster (NGC 6475) and show that the sn characteristics appear in the 3 stars with the lower rotational velocity. However, the apparent preference of sn stars for objects with the lower vsini values should be taken with caution due to the small number of objects studied here. We analysed the photospheric chemical composition of sn stars and show that approximately ~40% of them display chemical peculiarities (such as He-weak and HgMn stars) within a range of temperature of 10 300 K−14 500 K. However, there are also sn stars with solar or nearly-solar (i.e. non-CP) chemical composition. We have studied the possible contribution of different processes to the broad He I lines present in the sn stars. Although NLTE effects could not be completely ruled out, it seems that NLTE is not directly related to the broad He I profiles observed in the sn stars. The broad-line He I 4026 Å is the clearest example of the sn characteristics in our sample. We succesfully fit this line in 4 out of 7 sn stars by using the appropriate Stark broadening tables, while small differences appear in the other 3 stars. Studying the plots of abundance vs. depth for the He I lines resulted in some sn stars probably being stratified in He. However, a further study of variability in the He I lines would help for determining whether a possible non-uniform He superficial distribution could also play a role in these sn stars. We conclude that the broad He I lines that characterize the sn class could be modelled (at least in some of these stars) by the usual radiative transfer process with Stark broadening, without needing another broadening mechanism. The observed line broadening in sn stars seems to be related to the “normal” He line formation that originates in these atmospheres.
Key words: stars: chemically peculiar / stars: abundances / stars: late-type
© ESO, 2014
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