1 LUPM, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, France
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
4 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University College London, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, UK
5 Astrophysics group, EPSAM, Keele University, Lennard-Jones Labs, Keele, ST5 5BG, UK
6 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD, 21218, USA
7 Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille) UMR 7326, 13388 Marseille, France
8 Departamento de Física y Astronomía, Universidad de La Serena, Cisternas 1200 N, La Serena, Chile
Received: 18 March 2015
Accepted: 16 April 2015
Context. Massive stars burn hydrogen through the CNO cycle during most of their evolution. When mixing is efficient or when mass transfer in binary systems occurs, chemically processed material is observed at the surface of O and B stars.
Aims. ON stars show stronger lines of nitrogen than morphologically normal counterparts. Whether this corresponds to the presence of material processed through the CNO cycle is not known. Our goal is to answer this question.
Methods. We performed a spectroscopic analysis of a sample of ON stars with atmosphere models. We determined the fundamental parameters as well as the He, C, N, and O surface abundances. We also measured the projected rotational velocities. We compared the properties of the ON stars to those of normal O stars.
Results. We show that ON stars are usually rich in helium. Their CNO surface abundances are fully consistent with predictions of nucleosynthesis. ON stars are more chemically evolved and rotate − on average − faster than normal O stars. Evolutionary models including rotation cannot account for the extreme enrichment observed among ON main sequence stars. Some ON stars are members of binary systems, but others are single stars as indicated by stable radial velocities. Mass transfer is therefore not a simple explanation for the observed chemical properties.
Conclusions. We conclude that ON stars show extreme chemical enrichment at their surface, consistent with nucleosynthesis through the CNO cycle. Its origin is not clear at present.
Key words: stars: massive / stars: abundances / stars: evolution / stars: atmospheres
Based on observations obtained 1) at the Anglo-Australian Telescope; 2) at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Science de l’Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and the University of Hawaii; 3) at the ESO/La Silla Observatory under programs 081.D-2008, 083.D-0589, 086.D-0997; 4) the Nordic Optical Telescope, operated on the island of La Palma jointly by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias; 5) the Mercator Telescope, operated on the island of La Palma by the Flemish Community at the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.
Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
The reduced spectra are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (22.214.171.124) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/578/A109
© ESO, 2015