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HARPS-N high spectral resolution observations of Cepheids I. The Baade-Wesselink projection factor of δ Cep revisited

Abstract : Context. The projection factor p is the key quantity used in the Baade-Wesselink (BW) method for distance determination; it converts radial velocities into pulsation velocities. Several methods are used to determine p, such as geometrical and hydrodynamical models or the inverse BW approach when the distance is known. Aims. We analyze new HARPS-N spectra of δ Cep to measure its cycle-averaged atmospheric velocity gradient in order to better constrain the projection factor.Methods. We first apply the inverse BW method to derive p directly from observations. The projection factor can be divided into three subconcepts: (1) a geometrical effect (p0); (2) the velocity gradient within the atmosphere (fgrad); and (3) the relative motion of the optical pulsating photosphere with respect to the corresponding mass elements (fo−g). We then measure the fgrad value of δ Cep for the first time.Results. When the HARPS-N mean cross-correlated line-profiles are fitted with a Gaussian profile, the projection factor is pcc−g = 1.239 ± 0.034(stat.) ± 0.023(syst.). When we consider the different amplitudes of the radial velocity curves that are associated with 17 selected spectral lines, we measure projection factors ranging from 1.273 to 1.329. We find a relation between fgrad and the line depth measured when the Cepheid is at minimum radius. This relation is consistent with that obtained from our best hydrodynamical model of δ Cep and with our projection factor decomposition. Using the observational values of p and fgrad found for the 17 spectral lines, we derive a semi-theoretical value of fo−g. We alternatively obtain fo−g = 0.975 ± 0.002 or 1.006 ± 0.002 assuming models using radiative transfer in plane-parallel or spherically symmetric geometries, respectively.Conclusions. The new HARPS-N observations of δ Cep are consistent with our decomposition of the projection factor. The next step will be to measure p0 directly from the next generation of visible interferometers. With these values in hand, it will be possible to derive fo−g directly from observations.
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N. Nardetto, E. Poretti, M. Rainer, A. Fokin, P. Mathias, et al.. HARPS-N high spectral resolution observations of Cepheids I. The Baade-Wesselink projection factor of δ Cep revisited. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2017, 597, pp.A73. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201629400⟩. ⟨obspm-02268051⟩

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