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A spectro-interferometric view of ℓ Carinae's modulated pulsations

  • Richard I. Anderson (a1), Antoine Mérand (a2), Pierre Kervella (a3) (a4), Joanne Breitfelder (a2) (a3), Laurent Eyer (a5) and Alexandre Gallenne (a6)...

Abstract

Classical Cepheids are radially pulsating stars that enable important tests of stellar evolution and play a crucial role in the calibration of the local Hubble constant. ℓ Carinae is a particularly well-known distance calibrator, being the closest long-period (P ~ 35.5 d) Cepheid and subtending the largest angular diameter. We have carried out an unprecedented observing program to investigate whether recently discovered cycle-to-cycle changes (modulations) of ℓ Carinae's radial velocity (RV) variability are mirrored by its variability in angular size. To this end, we have secured a fully contemporaneous dataset of high-precision RVs and high-precision angular diameters. Here we provide a concise summary of our project and report preliminary results. We confirm the modulated nature of the RV variability and find tentative evidence of cycle-to-cycle differences in ℓ Car's maximal angular diameter. Our analysis is exploring the limits of state-of-the-art instrumentation and reveals additional complexity in the pulsations of Cepheids. If confirmed, our result suggests a previously unknown pulsation cycle dependence of projection factors required for determining Cepheid distances via the Baade-Wesselink technique.

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References

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