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  1. Context. Luminous blue variables (LBVs) are characterised by strong photometric and spectroscopic variability. They are thought to be in a transitory phase between O-type stars on the main sequence and the Wolf-Rayet stage. Recent studies also evoked the possibility that they might be formed through binary interaction. Only a few are known in binary systems so far, but their multiplicity fraction is still uncertain. Aims. We derive the binary fraction of the Galactic LBV population. We combine multi-epoch spectroscopy and long-baseline interferometry to probe separations from 0.1 to 120 mas around confirmed and candidate LBVs. Methods. We used a cross-correlation technique to measure the radial velocities of these objects. We identified spectroscopic binaries through significant radial velocity variability with an amplitude larger than 35 km s −1 . We also investigated the observational biases to take them into account when we established the intrinsic binary fraction. We used CANDID to detect interferometric companions, derive their flux fractions, and their positions on the sky. Results. From the multi-epoch spectroscopy, we derive an observed spectroscopic binary fraction of 26 −10 +16 %. Considering period and mass ratio ranges from log( P orb ) = 0 − 3 (i.e. from 1 to 1000 days), qmore » = 0.1 − 1.0, and a representative set of orbital parameter distributions, we find a bias-corrected binary fraction of 62 −24 +38 %. Based on data of the interferometric campaign, we detect a binary fraction of 70 ± 9% at projected separations between 1 and 120 mas. Based on the derived primary diameters and considering the distances of these objects, we measure for the first time the exact radii of Galactic LBVs to be between 100 and 650  R ⊙ . This means that it is unlikely that short-period systems are included among LBV-like stars. Conclusions. This analysis shows for the first time that the binary fraction in the Galactic LBV population is large. If they form through single-star evolution, their orbit must be large initially. If they form through a binary channel, the implication is that either massive stars in short binary systems must undergo a phase of fully non-conservative mass transfer to be able to sufficiently widen the orbit to form an LBV, or that LBVs form through merging in initially binary or triple systems. Interferometric follow-up would provide the distributions of orbital parameters at more advanced stages and would serve to quantitatively test the binary evolution in massive stars.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. Context . The Gl 486 system consists of a very nearby, relatively bright, weakly active M3.5 V star at just 8 pc with a warm transiting rocky planet of about 1.3 R ⊕ and 3.0 M ⊕ . It is ideal for both transmission and emission spectroscopy and for testing interior models of telluric planets. Aims . To prepare for future studies, we aim to thoroughly characterise the planetary system with new accurate and precise data collected with state-of-the-art photometers from space and spectrometers and interferometers from the ground. Methods . We collected light curves of seven new transits observed with the CHEOPS space mission and new radial velocities obtained with MAROON-X at the 8.1 m Gemini North telescope and CARMENES at the 3.5 m Calar Alto telescope, together with previously published spectroscopic and photometric data from the two spectrographs and TESS. We also performed near-infrared interferometric observations with the CHARA Array and new photometric monitoring with a suite of smaller telescopes (AstroLAB, LCOGT, OSN, TJO). This extraordinary and rich data set was the input for our comprehensive analysis. Results . From interferometry, we measure a limb-darkened disc angular size of the star Gl 486 at θ LDD = 0.390more »± 0.018 mas. Together with a corrected Gaia EDR3 parallax, we obtain a stellar radius R * = 0.339 ± 0.015 R ⊕ . We also measure a stellar rotation period at P rot = 49.9 ± 5.5 days, an upper limit to its XUV (5-920 A) flux informed by new Hubble /STIS data, and, for the first time, a variety of element abundances (Fe, Mg, Si, V, Sr, Zr, Rb) and C/O ratio. Moreover, we imposed restrictive constraints on the presence of additional components, either stellar or sub-stellar, in the system. With the input stellar parameters and the radial-velocity and transit data, we determine the radius and mass of the planet Gl 486 b at R p = 1.343 −0.062 +0.063 R ⊕ and M p = 3.00 −0.12 +0.13 M ⊕ , with relative uncertainties of the planet radius and mass of 4.7% and 4.2%, respectively. From the planet parameters and the stellar element abundances, we infer the most probable models of planet internal structure and composition, which are consistent with a relatively small metallic core with respect to the Earth, a deep silicate mantle, and a thin volatile upper layer. With all these ingredients, we outline prospects for Gl 486 b atmospheric studies, especially with forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope ( Webb ) observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  3. Context. The variety of physical processes at play in chemically peculiar stars makes it difficult to determine their fundamental parameters. In particular, for the magnetic ones, called Ap stars, the strong magnetic fields and the induced spotted stellar surfaces may lead to biased effective temperatures when these values are derived through spectro-photometry. Aims. We propose to benefit from the exquisite angular resolution provided by long-baseline interferometry in the visible to determine the accurate angular diameters of a number of Ap stars, and thus estimate their radii by a method that is as independent as possible of atmospheric models. Methods. We used the visible spectrograph VEGA at the CHARA interferometric array to complete the sample of Ap stars currently observable with this technique. We estimated the angular diameter and radius of six new targets. We estimated their bolometric flux based solely on observational spectroscopic and photometric data to derive nearly model-independent luminosities and effective temperatures. Results. We extend to 14 the number of Ap stars for which interferometric angular diameters have been measured. The fundamental parameters we derived for the complete Ap sample are compared with those obtained through a self-consistent spectroscopic analysis. Based on a model fitting approach of high-resolutionmore »spectra and spectro-photometric observations over a wide wavelength range, this method takes into account the anomalous chemical composition of the atmospheres and the inhomogeneous vertical distribution for different chemical elements. Regarding both the radii and the effective temperatures, the derived values from our interferometric observations and from self-consistent modelling are consistent within better than 2 σ for nine targets out of ten. We thus benchmark nine Ap stars for effective temperatures ranging from 7200 and 9100 K, and luminosities ranging between 7 L ⊙ and 86 L ⊙ . Conclusions. These results will be key for the future derivation of accurate radii and other fundamental parameters of fainter peculiar stars for which both the sensitivity and the angular resolution of the current interferometers are not sufficient. Within the context of the observations of Ap stars with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), these interferometric measurements are crucial for testing the mechanism of pulsation excitation at work in these peculiar stars. In particular, our interferometric measurements provide accurate locations in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for hot Ap stars among which pulsations may be searched for with TESS, putting to test the blue edge of the theoretical instability strip. These accurate locations could be used to derive masses and ages of these stars through a specific grid of models, and to test correlations between the properties of these peculiar stars and their evolutionary state.« less
  4. Context . We implement an electron avalanche photodiode (e-APD) in the MIRC-X instrument, which is an upgrade of the six-telescope near-infrared imager MIRC, at the CHARA array. This technology should improve the sensitivity of near-infrared interferometry. Aims . We aim to characterize a near-infrared C-RED ONE camera from First Light Imaging (FLI) using an e-APD from Leonardo (previously SELEX). Methods . We first used the classical mean-variance analysis to measure the system gain and the amplification gain. We then developed a physical model of the statistical distribution of the camera output signal. This model is based on multiple convolutions of the Poisson statistic, the intrinsic avalanche gain distribution, and the observed distribution of the background signal. At low flux level, this model independently constrains the incident illumination level, the total gain, and the excess noise factor of the amplification. Results . We measure a total transmission of 48 ± 3% including the cold filter and the Quantum Efficiency. We measure a system gain of 0.49 ADU/e, a readout noise of 10 ADU, and amplification gains as high as 200. These results are consistent between the two methods and therefore validate our modeling approach. The measured excess noise factor based on the modelingmore »is 1.47 ± 0.03, with no obvious dependency with flux level or amplification gain. Conclusions . The presented model allows the characteristics of the e-APD array to be measured at low flux level independently of a preexisting calibration. With < 0.3 electron equivalent readout noise at kilohertz frame rates, we confirm the revolutionary performances of the camera with respect to the PICNIC or HAWAII technologies. However, the measured excess noise factor is significantly higher than what is claimed in the literature (< 1.25), and explains why counting multiple photons remains challenging with this camera.« less
  5. Context. Asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars are cool luminous evolved stars that are well observable across the Galaxy and populating Gaia data. They have complex stellar surface dynamics, which amplifies the uncertainties on stellar parameters and distances. Aims. On the AGB star CL Lac, it has been shown that the convection-related variability accounts for a substantial part of the Gaia DR2 parallax error. We observed this star with the MIRC-X beam combiner installed at the CHARA interferometer to detect the presence of stellar surface inhomogeneities. Methods. We performed the reconstruction of aperture synthesis images from the interferometric observations at different wavelengths. Then, we used 3D radiative hydrodynamics (RHD) simulations of stellar convection with CO5BOLD and the post-processing radiative transfer code O PTIM 3D to compute intensity maps in the spectral channels of MIRC-X observations. Then, we determined the stellar radius using the average 3D intensity profile and, finally, compared the 3D synthetic maps to the reconstructed ones focusing on matching the intensity contrast, the morphology of stellar surface structures, and the photocentre position at two different spectral channels, 1.52 and 1.70 μ m, simultaneously. Results. We measured the apparent diameter of CL Lac at two wavelengths (3.299 ± 0.005 masmore »and 3.053 ± 0.006 mas at 1.52 and 1.70 μ m, respectively) and recovered the radius ( R = 307 ± 41 and R = 284 ± 38 R ⊙ ) using a Gaia parallax. In addition to this, the reconstructed images are characterised by the presence of a brighter area that largely affects the position of the photocentre. The comparison with 3D simulation shows good agreement with the observations both in terms of contrast and surface structure morphology, meaning that our model is adequate for explaining the observed inhomogenities. Conclusions. This work confirms the presence of convection-related surface structures on an AGB star of Gaia DR2. Our result will help us to take a step forward in exploiting Gaia measurement uncertainties to extract the fundamental properties of AGB stars using appropriate RHD simulations.« less