skip to main content

Title: Measuring Elemental Abundances of JWST Target Stars for Exoplanet Characterization. I. FGK Stars
Abstract With the launch of the JWST, we will obtain more precise data for exoplanets than ever before. However, these data can only inform and revolutionize our understanding of exoplanets when placed in the larger context of planet–star formation. Therefore, gaining a deeper understanding of their host stars is equally important and synergistic with the upcoming JWST data. We present detailed chemical abundance profiles of 17 FGK stars that will be observed in exoplanet-focused Cycle 1 JWST observer programs. The elements analyzed (C, N, O, Na, Mg, Si, S, K, and Fe) were specifically chosen as being informative to the composition and formation of planets. Using archival high-resolution spectra from a variety of sources, we perform an LTE equivalent width analysis to derive these abundances. We look to literature sources to correct the abundances for non-LTE effects, especially for O, S, and K, where the corrections are large (often >0.2 dex). With these abundances and the ratios thereof, we will begin to paint clearer pictures of the planetary systems analyzed by this work. With our analysis, we can gain insight into the composition and extent of migration of Hot Jupiters, as well as the possibility of carbon-rich terrestrial worlds.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astronomical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Context. Older models of Galactic chemical evolution (GCE) predict [K/Fe] ratios as much as 1 dex lower than those inferred from stellar observations. Abundances of potassium are mainly based on analyses of the 7698 Å resonance line, and the discrepancy between GCE models and observations is in part caused by the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) in spectroscopic analyses. Aims. We study the statistical equilibrium of K  I , focusing on the non-LTE effects on the 7698 Å line. We aim to determine how non-LTE abundances of potassium can improve the analysis of its chemical evolution, and help to constrain the yields of GCE models. Methods. We construct a new model K  I atom that employs the most up-to-date atomic data. In particular, we calculate and present inelastic e+K collisional excitation cross-sections from the convergent close-coupling (CCC) and the B -Spline R -matrix (BSR) methods, and H+K collisions from the two-electron model (LCAO). We constructed a fine, extended grid of non-LTE abundance corrections based on 1D MARCS models that span 4000 < T eff ∕K < 8000, 0.50 < log g < 5.00, − 5.00 < [Fe/H] < + 0.50, and applied the corrections to potassium abundances extracted from the literature.more »Results. In concordance with previous studies, we find severe non-LTE effects in the 7698 Å line. The line is stronger in non-LTE and the abundance corrections can reach approximately − 0.7 dex for solar-metallicity stars such as Procyon. We determine potassium abundances in six benchmark stars, and obtain consistent results from different optical lines. We explore the effects of atmospheric inhomogeneity by computing for the first time a full 3D non-LTE stellar spectrum of K  I lines for a test star. We find that 3D modeling is necessary to predict a correct shape of the resonance 7698 Å line, but the line strength is similar to that found in 1D non-LTE. Conclusions. Our non-LTE abundance corrections reduce the scatter and change the cosmic trends of literature potassium abundances. In the regime [Fe/H] ≲−1.0 the non-LTE abundances show a good agreement with the GCE model with yields from rotating massive stars. The reduced scatter of the non-LTE corrected abundances of a sample of solar twins shows that line-by-line differential analysis techniques cannot fully compensate for systematic LTE modelling errors; the scatter introduced by such errors introduces a spurious dispersion to K evolution.« less
  2. Context. The origin of the observed population of Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars in low-metallicity galaxies, such as the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), is not yet understood. Standard, single-star evolutionary models predict that WR stars should stem from very massive O-type star progenitors, but these are very rare. On the other hand, binary evolutionary models predict that WR stars could originate from primary stars in close binaries. Aims. We conduct an analysis of the massive O star, AzV 14, to spectroscopically determine its fundamental and stellar wind parameters, which are then used to investigate evolutionary paths from the O-type to the WR stage with stellar evolutionary models. Methods. Multi-epoch UV and optical spectra of AzV 14 are analyzed using the non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) stellar atmosphere code PoWR. An optical TESS light curve was extracted and analyzed using the PHOEBE code. The obtained parameters are put into an evolutionary context, using the MESA code. Results. AzV 14 is a close binary system with a period of P  = 3.7058 ± 0.0013 d. The binary consists of two similar main sequence stars with masses of M 1, 2  ≈ 32  M ⊙ . Both stars have weak stellar winds with mass-loss rates of log Ṁ /( M ⊙ yrmore »−1 ) = −7.7 ± 0.2. Binary evolutionary models can explain the empirically derived stellar and orbital parameters, including the position of the AzV 14 components on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, revealing its current age of 3.3 Myr. The model predicts that the primary will evolve into a WR star with T eff  ≈ 100 kK, while the secondary, which will accrete significant amounts of mass during the first mass transfer phase, will become a cooler WR star with T eff  ≈ 50 kK. Furthermore, WR stars that descend from binary components that have accreted significant amount of mass are predicted to have increased oxygen abundances compared to other WR stars. This model prediction is supported by a spectroscopic analysis of a WR star in the SMC. Conclusions. Inspired by the binary evolutionary models, we hypothesize that the populations of WR stars in low-metallicity galaxies may have bimodal temperature distributions. Hotter WR stars might originate from primary stars, while cooler WR stars are the evolutionary descendants of the secondary stars if they accreted a significant amount of mass. These results may have wide-ranging implications for our understanding of massive star feedback and binary evolution channels at low metallicity.« less
  3. The Galactic center region, including the nuclear disk, has until recently been largely avoided in chemical census studies because of extreme extinction and stellar crowding. Large, near-IR spectroscopic surveys, such as the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), allow the measurement of metallicities in the inner region of our Galaxy. Making use of the latest APOGEE data release (DR16), we are able for the first time to study cool Asymptotic Giant branch (AGB) stars and supergiants in this region. The stellar parameters of five known AGB stars and one supergiant star (VR 5-7) show that their location is well above the tip of the red giant branch. We studied metallicities of 157 M giants situated within 150 pc of the Galactic center from observations obtained by the APOGEE survey with reliable stellar parameters from the APOGEE pipeline making use of the cool star grid down to 3200 K. Distances, interstellar extinction values, and radial velocities were checked to confirm that these stars are indeed situated in the Galactic center region. We detect a clear bimodal structure in the metallicity distribution function, with a dominant metal-rich peak of [Fe/H] ∼ +0.3 dex and a metal-poor peak around {Fe/H] = −0.5more »dex, which is 0.2 dex poorer than Baade’s Window. The α -elements Mg, Si, Ca, and O show a similar trend to the Galactic bulge. The metal-poor component is enhanced in the α -elements, suggesting that this population could be associated with the classical bulge and a fast formation scenario. We find a clear signature of a rotating nuclear stellar disk and a significant fraction of high-velocity stars with v gal  >  300 km s −1 ; the metal-rich stars show a much higher rotation velocity (∼200 km s −1 ) with respect to the metal-poor stars (∼140 km s −1 ). The chemical abundances as well as the metallicity distribution function suggest that the nuclear stellar disk and the nuclear star cluster show distinct chemical signatures and might be formed differently.« less
  4. Abstract Little is known about the origin of the fastest stars in the Galaxy. Our understanding of the chemical evolution history of the Milky Way and surrounding dwarf galaxies allows us to use the chemical composition of a star to investigate its origin and to say whether it was formed in situ or was accreted. However, the fastest stars, the hypervelocity stars, are young and massive and their chemical composition has not yet been analyzed. Though it is difficult to analyze the chemical composition of a massive young star, we are well versed in the analysis of late-type stars. We have used high-resolution ARCES/3.5 m Apache Point Observatory, MIKE/Magellan spectra to study the chemical details of 15 late-type hypervelocity star candidates. With Gaia EDR3 astrometry and spectroscopically determined radial velocities we found total velocities with a range of 274–520 km s −1 and mean value of 381 km s −1 . Therefore, our sample stars are not fast enough to be classified as hypervelocity stars, and are what is known as extreme-velocity stars. Our sample has a wide iron abundance range of −2.5 ≤ [Fe/H] ≤ −0.9. Their chemistry indicates that at least 50% of them are accreted extragalactic stars,more »with iron-peak elements consistent with prior enrichment by sub-Chandrasekhar mass Type Ia supernovae. Without indication of binary companions, their chemical abundances and orbital parameters indicate that they are the accelerated tidal debris of disrupted dwarf galaxies.« less
  5. Context. The TESS satellite was launched in 2018 to perform high-precision photometry from space over almost the whole sky in a search for exoplanets orbiting bright stars. This instrument has opened new opportunities to study variable hot subdwarfs, white dwarfs, and related compact objects. Targets of interest include white dwarf and hot subdwarf pulsators, both carrying high potential for asteroseismology. Aims. We present the discovery and detailed asteroseismic analysis of a new g -mode hot B subdwarf (sdB) pulsator, EC 21494−7018 (TIC 278659026), monitored in TESS first sector using 120-s cadence. Methods. The TESS light curve was analyzed with standard prewhitening techniques, followed by forward modeling using our latest generation of sdB models developed for asteroseismic investigations. By simultaneously best-matching all the observed frequencies with those computed from models, we identified the pulsation modes detected and, more importantly, we determined the global parameters and structural configuration of the star. Results. The light curve analysis reveals that EC 21494−7018 is a sdB pulsator counting up to 20 frequencies associated with independent g -modes. The seismic analysis singles out an optimal model solution in full agreement with independent measurements provided by spectroscopy (atmospheric parameters derived from model atmospheres) and astrometry (distance evaluatedmore »from Gaia DR2 trigonometric parallax). Several key parameters of the star are derived. Its mass (0.391 ± 0.009  M ⊙ ) is significantly lower than the typical mass of sdB stars and suggests that its progenitor has not undergone the He-core flash; therefore this progenitor could originate from a massive (≳2  M ⊙ ) red giant, which is an alternative channel for the formation of sdBs. Other derived parameters include the H-rich envelope mass (0.0037 ± 0.0010  M ⊙ ), radius (0.1694 ± 0.0081  R ⊙ ), and luminosity (8.2 ± 1.1  L ⊙ ). The optimal model fit has a double-layered He+H composition profile, which we interpret as an incomplete but ongoing process of gravitational settling of helium at the bottom of a thick H-rich envelope. Moreover, the derived properties of the core indicate that EC 21494−7018 has burnt ∼43% (in mass) of its central helium and possesses a relatively large mixed core ( M core  = 0.198 ± 0.010  M ⊙ ), in line with trends already uncovered from other g-mode sdB pulsators analyzed with asteroseismology. Finally, we obtain for the first time an estimate of the amount of oxygen (in mass; X (O) core = 0.16 +0.13 −0.05 ) produced at this stage of evolution by an helium-burning core. This result, along with the core-size estimate, is an interesting constraint that may help to narrow down the still uncertain 12 C( α ,  γ ) 16 O nuclear reaction rate.« less