Radiative hydrodynamics simulations of red supergiant stars. I. interpretation of interferometric observations
Context: It has been proposed that convection in red supergiant (RSG) stars produces large-scale granules causing observable surface inhomogeneities. This convection is also extremely vigorous and is suspected to be one of the main causes of mass-loss in RSGs. It should thus be understood in detail. Evidence has accumulated of asymmetries in the photospheres of RSGs, but detailed studies of granulation are still lacking. Interferometric observations provide an innovative way of addressing this question, but they are still often interpreted using smooth symmetrical limb-darkened intensity distributions, or simple, spotted, ad hoc models.
Aims: We explore the impact of the granulation on visibility curves and closure phases using the radiative transfer code OPTIM3D. We simultaneously assess how 3D simulations of convection in RSG with CO^5BOLD can be tested by comparing with these observations.
Methods: We use 3D radiative hydrodynamical (RHD) simulations of convection to compute intensity maps at various wavelengths and time, from which we derive interferometric visibility amplitudes and phases. We study their behaviour with time, position angle, and wavelength, and compare them to observations of the RSG α Ori.
Results: We provide average limb-darkening coefficients for RSGs. We describe the prospects for the detection and characterization of granulation (i.e., contrast, size) on RSGs. We demonstrate that our RHD simulations provide an excellent fit to existing interferometric observations of α Ori, in contrast to limb darkened disks. This confirms the existence of large convective cells on the surface of Betelgeuse.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- November 2009
- stars: supergiants;
- stars: atmospheres;
- radiative transfer;
- techniques: interferometric;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- 16 pages with 18 Figures. Accepted for publication on Astronomy and Astrophysics