Journal Article

<i>Kepler</i> observations of δ Scuti stars

L. A. Balona and W. A. Dziembowski

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 417, issue 1, pages 591-601
Published in print October 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Kepler observations of δ Scuti stars

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We analyse observations of 1568 δ Scuti stars in the public archive of the Kepler satellite. We compare the location of these stars in the Hertzsprung–Russell (HR) diagram with that calculated by linear, non-adiabatic pulsation models. There is generally a good agreement and it appears that many of the hotter δ Scuti stars are pulsating in overtones as high as radial order n= 8. Models predict unstable modes of intermediate and high spherical harmonic, l, which are trapped in the envelope. The instability strip for these modes extends well beyond the blue edge for l≤ 4 and should be visible in the Kepler data. However, stars with these predicted properties are not seen. Moreover, we find that the observed frequency range does not agree with the models. Another challenge is to understand why more than half of the stars in the δ Sct instability strip are not pulsating. The distribution of amplitudes argues strongly against the notion that the pulsation amplitudes are below the Kepler detection limit. The mode density of δ Scuti stars is surprisingly low and suggests that modes of a high degree are not common. We do not find any stars with mode densities as high as that found in the CoRoT observations of HD 50844. The periodograms of stars in the same part of the HR diagram vary widely. However, we have identified a group of δ Scuti stars characterized by a single dominant frequency in which a period–luminosity law is present. In many cases the dominant frequency is accompanied by a close frequency of lower amplitude.

The problem of low frequencies in hot δ Scuti stars remains unresolved. We confirm that these frequencies have long lifetimes and are not likely to be of stochastic origin. By carefully examining the periodograms of δ Sct stars in the low-frequency regime, we were able to identify a group of δ Sct stars with low-frequency peaks closely resembling those attributed to pure γ Dor stars. These stars lie in the region of the HR diagram where ground-based γ Dor stars are located. None is found hotter than the blue edge of γ Dor pulsation. We suspect that these are genuine γ Dor/δ Sct hybrids.

Keywords: stars: oscillations; stars: variables: δ Scuti

Journal Article.  8666 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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