Seismic characterization of red giants going through the helium-core flash
1 IRAP, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, CNES, UPS, Toulouse, France
2 LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université Denis Diderot, 92195 Meudon, France
Accepted: 31 August 2018
Context. First-ascent red giants in the approximate mass range 0.7 ≲ M/M⊙ ≲ 2 ignite helium in their degenerate core as a flash. Stellar evolution codes predict that the He flash consists of a series of consecutive subflashes. Observational evidence of the existence of the He flash and subflashes is lacking. The detection of mixed modes in red giants from space missions CoRoT and Kepler has opened new opportunities to search for such evidence.
Aims. During a subflash, the He-burning shell is convective, which splits the cavity of gravity modes in two. We here investigate how this additional cavity modifies the oscillation spectrum of the star. We also address the question of the detectability of the modes, to determine whether they could be used to seismically identify red giants passing through the He flash.
Methods. We calculate the asymptotic mode frequencies of stellar models going through a He subflash using the Jeffreys-Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (JWKB) approximation. To predict the detectability of the modes, we estimate their expected heights, taking into account the effects of radiative damping in the core. Our results are then compared to the oscillation spectra obtained by numerically calculating the mode frequencies during a He subflash.
Results. We show that during a He subflash, the detectable oscillation spectrum mainly consists of modes trapped in the acoustic cavity and in the outer g-mode cavity. The spectrum should thus at first sight resemble that of a core-helium-burning giant. However, we find a list of clear, detectable features that could enable us to identify red giants passing through a He subflash. In particular, during a He subflash, several modes that are trapped in the innermost g-mode cavity are expected to be detectable. We show that these modes could be identified by their frequencies or by their rotational splittings. Other features, such as the measured period spacing of gravity modes or the location of the H-burning shell within the g-mode cavity could also be used to identify stars going through a He subflash.
Conclusions. The features derived in this study can now be searched for in the large datasets provided by the CoRoT and Kepler missions.
Key words: stars: evolution / stars: oscillations (including pulsations)
© ESO 2018