Convection, granulation, and period jitter in classical Cepheids
Department of Physics & Astronomy, East Tennessee State University, Box 70652, Johnson City, TN 37614 USA
Received: 16 January 2014
Accepted: 31 January 2014
Analyses of recent observations of the sole classical Cepheid in the Kepler field, V1154 Cygni, found random changes of about 30 min in the pulsation period. These period changes challenge standard theories of pulsation and evolution because the period change is non-secular, and explaining this period jitter is necessary for understanding stellar evolution and the role of Cepheids as precise standard candles. We suggest that convection and convective hot spots can explain the observed period jitter. Convective hot spots alter the timing of flux maximum and minimum in the Cepheid light curve, hence change the measured pulsation period. We present a model of random hot spots that generate a localized flux excess that perturbs the Cepheid light curve and consequently the pulsation period, which is consistent with the observed jitter. This result demonstrates how important understanding convection is for modeling Cepheid stellar structure and evolution, how convection determines the red edge of the instability strip, and just how sensitive Cepheid light curves are to atmospheric physics.
Key words: convection / stars: late-type / starspots / stars: variables: Cepheids / stars: individual: V1154 Cyg
© ESO, 2014