Volume 566, June 2014
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||27 June 2014|
Tuning in on Cepheids: Radial velocity amplitude modulations⋆,⋆⋆,⋆⋆⋆
A source of systematic uncertainty for Baade-Wesselink distances
Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 Ch. des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
Received: 20 March 2014
Accepted: 3 June 2014
Context. Classical Cepheids are crucial calibrators of the extragalactic distance scale. The Baade-Wesselink technique can be used to calibrate Cepheid distances using Cepheids in the Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds.
Aims. I report the discovery of modulations in radial velocity (RV) curves of four Galactic classical Cepheids and investigate their impact as a systematic uncertainty for Baade-Wesselink distances.
Methods. Highly precise Doppler measurements were obtained using the Coralie high-resolution spectrograph since 2011. Particular care was taken to sample all phase points in order to very accurately trace the RV curve during multiple epochs and to search for differences in linear radius variations derived from observations obtained at different epochs. Different timescales are sampled, ranging from cycle-to-cycle to months and years.
Results. The unprecedented combination of excellent phase coverage obtained during multiple epochs and high precision enabled the discovery of significant modulation in the RV curves of the short-period s-Cepheids QZ Normae and V335 Puppis, as well as the long-period fundamental mode Cepheids ℓ Carinae and RS Puppis. The modulations manifest as shape and amplitude variations that vary smoothly on timescales of years for short-period Cepheids and from one pulsation cycle to the next in the long-period Cepheids. The order of magnitude of the effect ranges from several hundred m s-1 to a few km s-1. The resulting difference among linear radius variations derived using data from different epochs can lead to systematic errors of up to 15% for Baade-Wesselink-type distances, if the employed angular and linear radius variations are not determined contemporaneously.
Conclusions. The different natures of the Cepheids exhibiting modulation in their RV curves suggests that this phenomenon is common. The observational baseline is not yet sufficient to conclude whether these modulations are periodic. To ensure the accuracy of Baade-Wesselink distances, angular and linear radius variations should always be determined contemporaneously.
Key words: methods: observational / techniques: radial velocities / stars: variables: Cepheids / stars: distances / distance scale
Based on observations collected at ESO La Silla Observatory using the Coralie spectrograph mounted to the Swiss 1.2 m Euler telescope.
The derived radial velocities are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (126.96.36.199) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/566/L10
Appendix A is available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2014
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