Polaris the Cepheid returns: 4.5 years of monitoring from ground and space

H. Bruntt, N. R. Evans, D. Stello, A. J. Penny, J. A. Eaton, D. L. Buzasi, D. D. Sasselov, H. L. Preston, E. Miller-Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present the analysis of 4.5 years of nearly continuous observations of the classical Cepheid Polaris, which comprise the most precise data available for this star. We have made spectroscopic measurements from ground and photometric measurements from the WIRE star tracker and the SMEI instrument on the Coriolis satellite. Measurements of the amplitude of the dominant oscillation ( P = 4 days), which go back more than a century, show a decrease from A(V) = 120 to 30 mmag around the turn of the millennium. It has been speculated that the reason for the decrease in amplitude is the evolution of Polaris toward the edge of the instability strip. However, our new data reveal an increase in the amplitude by similar to 30% from 2003 to 2006. It now appears that the amplitude change is cyclic rather than monotonic and most likely the result of a pulsation phenomenon. In addition, previous radial velocity campaigns have claimed the detection of long-period variation in Polaris (P > 40 days). Our radial velocity data are more precise than previous data sets, and we find no evidence for additional variation for periods in the range 3-50 days with an upper limit of 100 m s(-1). However, in the WIRE data we find evidence of variation on timescales of 2-6 days, which we interpret as being due to granulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-440
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume683
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2008

Keywords

  • Cepheids
  • stars : individual (HD 8890, Polaris)
  • EJECTION IMAGER SMEI
  • OPEN CLUSTER M67
  • RADIAL-VELOCITY
  • MULTISITE CAMPAIGN
  • WIRE SATELLITE
  • PERIOD
  • AMPLITUDE
  • GIANTS
  • OSCILLATIONS
  • PARALLAXES

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