Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 366, 935-944 (2001/2-2)
Simultaneous Hα and photometric observations of P Cygni.
MARKOVA N., SCUDERI S., DE GROOT M., MARKOV H. and PANAGIA N.
Abstract (from CDS):
For the first time an extensive set of (quasi-) simultaneous photometric (UBV) and spectroscopic (Hα line profiles) observations of P Cygni, covering a period from May, 1990 to June, 1994 was analyzed in terms of time variability. It is found that the Hα equivalent width (EW) exhibits two different patterns of variability: a slower one, called Long-Term (LT) variability, with an amplitude of about 30Å and a characteristic duration of about 600 days and a faster one, called Short-Term (ST) variability, with an amplitude up to 10Å and duration of 40 to 60 days. Suggestive evidence for EW variation on a longer time scale (about few years) also exists. The variations in the Hα luminosity are not solely due to changes in the underlying continuum but also reflect variations in the physical properties of the wind. We find, in terms of a simplified spherically-symmetric wind model, that the LT variation of the line can be successfully explained in terms of a 26% alteration of the mass-loss rate, possibly accompanied by variations in the velocity field. From the analysis of the photometric behaviour of the star we find evidence for a very slow variation in the stellar brightness with an amplitude of about 0.13mag and a duration of about 2600 days, i.e. about 7 years. During this variation, i.e. when the star brightens, the effective temperature decreases (by about 10%) and the radius increases (by about 7%). The properties of this Very Long Term (VLT) variation suggest that P Cygni has probably experienced a normal S Dor-type variation with a minimum phase around 1988 and a maximum phase in 1992. Some hints for a positive correlation between mass loss variations and changes in the stellar radius, due to the normal SD variability, do exist implying that the behaviour of P Cygni is more likely similar to that of R71 and S Dor but different from e.g. AG Car, R127 and HD 160529. Superimposed on the VLT component in the photometric variability of P Cygni, we observe ST brightness variations with an amplitude between 0.1 and 0.2 mag which appears to recur on a time scale of three to four months. The colour behaviour of these microvariations, at least of those which appear near the maximum phase of the VLT variation, is redder in B-V and bluer in U-B when the star brightens in V. The properties of this ST photometric variability are similar to the properties of the so-called ``100 d-type micro-variations'', recognized in other LBVs by van Genderen et al. (1997a,b). Based on time-scale evidences we suggest that the microvariabilities observed are rather due to ``relaxation oscillations'' (Stothers & Chin, 1995) than to strange-mode oscillations in the stellar interior. Evidence for a close relationship between ST variations in Hα and changes in the stellar brightness and temperature is found. From other results about P Cygni's spectral variations (Markova, 2000A&AS..144..391M), we conclude that the ST variability of the wind is most likely connected with processes in the stellar photosphere.
stars: early type - stars: atmosphere - stars: mass loss - stars: individual: P Cyg