The convective photosphere of the red supergiant CE Tauri

Abstract : Red supergiant stars are one of the latest stages in the evolution of massive stars. Their photospheric convection may play an important role in the launching mechanism of their mass loss; however, its characteristics and dynamics are still poorly constrained. By observing red supergiant stars with near infrared interferometry at different epochs, we expect to reveal the evolution of bright convective features on their stellar surface. We observed the M2Iab-Ib red supergiant star CE Tau with the VLTI/PIONIER instrument in the H band at two different epochs separated by one month. We derive the angular diameter of the star and basic stellar parameters, and reconstruct two reliable images of its H-band photosphere. The contrast of the convective pattern of the reconstructed images is 5 ± 1% and 6 ± 1% for our two epochs of observation. The stellar photosphere shows few changes between the two epochs. The contrast of the convective pattern is below the average contrast variations obtained on 30 randomly chosen snapshots of the best matching 3D radiative hydrodynamics simulation: 23 ± 1% for the original simulation images and 16 ± 1% for the maps degraded to the reconstruction resolution. We offer two hypotheses to explain this observation. CE Tau may be experiencing a quiet convective activity episode or it could be a consequence of its warmer effective temperature (hence its smaller radius) compared to the simulation.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 3:59:39 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 5:02:02 PM

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M. Montargès, R. Norris, A. Chiavassa, B. Tessore, A. Lèbre, et al.. The convective photosphere of the red supergiant CE Tauri. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2018, 614, pp.A12. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201731471⟩. ⟨in2p3-01954382⟩

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