Polaris: amplitude, period change, and companions.
EVANS N.R., SASSELOV D.D. and SHORT C.I.
Abstract (from CDS):
Polaris has presented us with the rare phenomenon of a Cepheid with a pulsation amplitude that has decreased over the last 50 yr. In this study we have used this property to see whether the amplitude decrease during the last 15 yr has had any effect on upper atmosphere heating. We obtained IUE high- and low-resolution spectra but found no change in either the Mg II chromospheric emission or the flux at 1800 Å between 1978 and 1993 when the pulsation amplitude dropped by 50% (from 2.8 to 1.6 km.s–1). The energy distribution from 1700 Å through V, B, R(KC), and I(KC) is like that of a nonvariable supergiant of the same color rather than a full amplitude Cepheid in that it has more flux at 1800 Å than the full amplitude Cepheid δ Cep. Polaris also has a rapidly changing period (3.2 s.yr–1), in common with other overtone pulsators. We argue that this is a natural consequence of the different envelope locations that dominate pulsation growth rates in fundamental and overtone pulsation. In fundamental mode pulsators, the deeper envelope is more important in determining growth rates than for overtone pulsators. For fundamental mode pulsators, evolutionary changes in the radius produce approximately linear changes in period. In overtone pulsators, pulsation reacts to small evolutionary changes in a more unstable way because the modes are more sensitive to high envelope features such as opacity bumps, and the growth rates for the many closely spaced overtone modes change easily. Finally, the upper limit to the X-ray flux from an Einstein observation implies that the companion in the astrometric orbit is earlier than F4 V. The combination of upper and lower limits on the companion from IUE and Einstein respectively catch the companion mass between 1.7 and 1.4 M☉. The X-ray limit is consistent with the more distant companion α UMi B being a physical companion in a hierarchal triple system. However the X-ray limits require that the even more distant companions α UMi C and D are too old to be physically associated with Polaris.