Friday, July 13, 2012

1207.2907 (A. Derekas et al.)

Period and light curve fluctuations of the Kepler Cepheid V1154 Cyg    [PDF]

A. Derekas, Gy. M. Szabo, L. Berdnikov, R. Szabo, R. Smolec, L. L. Kiss, L. Szabados, M. Chadid, N. R. Evans, K. Kinemuchi, J. M. Nemec, S. E. Seader, J. C. Smith, P. Tenenbaum
We present a detailed period analysis of the bright Cepheid-type variable star V1154 Cygni (V =9.1 mag, P~4.9 d) based on almost 600 days of continuous observations by the Kepler space telescope. The data reveal significant cycle-to-cycle fluctuations in the pulsation period, indicating that classical Cepheids may not be as accurate astrophysical clocks as commonly believed: regardless of the specific points used to determine the O-C values, the cycle lengths show a scatter of 0.015-0.02 days over the 120 cycles covered by the observations. A very slight correlation between the individual Fourier parameters and the O-C values was found, suggesting that the O - C variations might be due to the instability of the light curve shape. Random fluctuation tests revealed a linear trend up to a cycle difference 15, but for long term, the period remains around the mean value. We compare the measurements with simulated light curves that were constructed to mimic V1154 Cyg as a perfect pulsator modulated only by the light travel time effect caused by low-mass companions. We show that the observed period jitter in V1154 Cyg represents a serious limitation in the search for binary companions. While the Kepler data are accurate enough to allow the detection of planetary bodies in close orbits around a Cepheid, the astrophysical noise can easily hide the signal of the light-time effect.
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