Letter to the Editor
Radiative levitation: a likely explanation for pulsations in the unique hot O subdwarf star SDSS J160043.6+074802.9
Département de Physique, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada e-mail: [fontaine;brassard]@astro.umontreal.ca
2 Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, 933 North Cherry Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA e-mail: email@example.com
4 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Toulouse-Tarbes, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, 14 Av. E. Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Spitzer Science Center, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 9 June 2008
Context. SDSS J160043.6+074802.9 (J1600+0748 for short) is the only hot sdO star for which unambiguous multiperiodic luminosity variations have been reported so far. These rapid variations, with periods in the range from ~60 s to ~120 s, are best qualitatively explained in terms of pulsational instabilities, but the exact nature of the driving mechanism has remained a puzzle.
Aims. Our primary goal is to examine quantitatively how pulsation modes can be excited in an object such as J1600+0748. Given the failure of uniform-metallicity models as well documented in the recent Ph.D. thesis of C. Rodríguez-López, we consider the effects of radiative levitation on iron as a means to boost the efficiency of the opacity-driving mechanism in models of J1600+0748.
Methods. We combine high sensitivity time-averaged optical spectroscopy and full nonadiabatic calculations to carry out our study. In the first instance, this is used to estimate the location of J1600+0748 in the log plane. Given this essential input, we pulsate stellar models consistent with these atmospheric parameters. We construct both uniform-metallicity models and structures in which the iron abundance is specified by the condition of diffusive equilibrium between gravitational settling and radiative levitation.
Results. On the basis of NTLE H/He synthetic spectra, we find that the target star has the following atmospheric parameters: log g = 5.93 ± 0.11, Teff = 71 070 ± 2725 K, and log N(He)/N(H) = -0.85 ± 0.08. This takes into account our deconvolution of the spectrum of J1600+0748 as it is polluted by the light of a main sequence companion. We confirm that uniform-metallicity stellar models with Z in the range from 0.02 to 0.10 cannot excite pulsation modes of the kind observed. On the other hand, we find that the inclusion of radiative levitation, as we implemented it, leads to pulsational instabilities in a period range that overlaps with, although it is narrower than, the observed range in J1600+0748. The excited modes correspond to low-order, low-degree p-modes.
Conclusions. We infer that radiative levitation is a likely essential ingredient in the excitation physics at work in J1600+0748.
Key words: stars: oscillations / stars: subdwarfs / stars: individual: SDSS J160043.6+074802.9
© ESO, 2008