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  1. Context. The surface brightness – color relationship (SBCR) is a poweful tool for determining the angular diameter of stars from photometry. It was for instance used to derive the distance of eclipsing binaries in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which led to its distance determination with an accuracy of 1%. Aims. We calibrate the SBCR for red giant stars in the 2.1 ≤ V − K ≤ 2.5 color range using homogeneous VEGA/CHARA interferometric data secured in the visible domain, and compare it to the relation based on infrared interferometric observations, which were used to derive the distance to the LMC. Methods. Observations of eight G–K giants were obtained with the VEGA/CHARA instrument. The derived limb-darkened angular diameters were combined with a homogeneous set of infrared magnitudes in order to constrain the SBCR. Results. The average precision we obtain on the limb-darkened angular diameters of the eight stars in our sample is 2.4%. For the four stars in common observed by both VEGA/CHARA and PIONIER/VLTI, we find a 1 σ agreement for the angular diameters. The SBCR we obtain in the visible has a dispersion of 0.04 magnitude and is consistent with the one derived in the infrared (0.018 magnitude).more »Conclusions. The consistency of the infrared and visible angular diameters and SBCR reinforces the result of 1% precision and accuracy recently achieved on the distance of the LMC using the eclipsing-binary technique. It also indicates that it is possible to combine interferometric observations at different wavelengths when the SBCR is calibrated.« less
  2. Aims. We present a detailed visible and near-infrared spectro-interferometric analysis of the Be-shell star o Aquarii from quasi-contemporaneous CHARA/VEGA and VLTI/AMBER observations. Methods. We analyzed spectro-interferometric data in the H α (VEGA) and Br γ (AMBER) lines using models of increasing complexity: simple geometric models, kinematic models, and radiative transfer models computed with the 3D non-LTE code HDUST. Results. We measured the stellar radius of o Aquarii in the visible with a precision of 8%: 4.0 ± 0.3 R ⊙ . We constrained the circumstellar disk geometry and kinematics using a kinematic model and a MCMC fitting procedure. The emitting disk sizes in the H α and Br γ lines were found to be similar, at ~10–12 stellar diameters, which is uncommon since most results for Be stars indicate a larger extension in H α than in Br γ . We found that the inclination angle i derived from H α is significantly lower (~15°) than the one derived from Br γ : i ~ 61.2° and 75.9°, respectively. While the two lines originate from a similar region of the disk, the disk kinematics were found to be near to the Keplerian rotation (i.e., β = −0.5) in Br γmore »( β ~ −0.43), but not in H α ( β ~ −0.30). After analyzing all our data using a grid of HDUST models (BeAtlas), we found a common physical description for the circumstellar disk in both lines: a base disk surface density Σ 0 = 0.12 g cm −2 and a radial density law exponent m = 3.0. The same kind of discrepancy, as with the kinematic model, is found in the determination of i using the BeAtlas grid. The stellar rotational rate was found to be very close (~96%) to the critical value. Despite being derived purely from the fit to interferometric data, our best-fit HDUST model provides a very reasonable match to non-interferometric observables of o Aquarii: the observed spectral energy distribution, H α and Br γ line profiles, and polarimetric quantities. Finally, our analysis of multi-epoch H α profiles and imaging polarimetry indicates that the disk structure has been (globally) stable for at least 20 yr. Conclusions. Looking at the visible continuum and Br γ emission line only, o Aquarii fits in the global scheme of Be stars and their circumstellar disk: a (nearly) Keplerian rotating disk well described by the viscous decretion disk (VDD) model. However, the data in the H α line shows a substantially different picture that cannot fully be understood using the current generation of physical models of Be star disks. The Be star o Aquarii presents a stable disk (close to the steady-state), but, as in previous analyses, the measured m is lower than the standard value in the VDD model for the steady-state regime ( m = 3.5). This suggests that some assumptions of this model should be reconsidered. Also, such long-term disk stability could be understood in terms of the high rotational rate that we measured for this star, the rate being a main source for the mass injection in the disk. Our results on the stellar rotation and disk stability are consistent with results in the literature showing that late-type Be stars are more likely to be fast rotators and have stable disks.« less
  3. 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
  4. Context. Red giant branch (RGB) stars are very bright objects in galaxies and are often used as standard candles. Interferometry is the ideal tool to characterize the dynamics and morphology of their atmospheres. Aims. We aim at precisely characterising the surface dynamics of a sample of RGB stars. Methods. We obtained interferometric observations for three RGB stars with the MIRC instrument mounted at the CHARA interferometer. We looked for asymmetries on the stellar surfaces using limb-darkening models. Results. We measured the apparent diameters of HD 197989 ( ϵ Cyg) = 4.61 ± 0.02 mas, HD 189276 (HR 7633) = 2.95 ± 0.01 mas, and HD 161096 ( β Oph) = 4.43 ± 0.01 mas. We detected departures from the centrosymmetric case for all three stars with the tendency of a greater effect for lower log g of the sample. We explored the causes of this signal and conclude that a possible explanation to the interferometric signal is the convection-related and/or the magnetic-related surface activity. However, it is necessary to monitor these stars with new observations, possibly coupled with spectroscopy, in order to firmly establish the cause.