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Astron. Astrophys. 350, 587-597 (1999)

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The Hipparcos HR diagram of nearby stars in the metallicity range: -1.0 [FORMULA] [Fe/H] [FORMULA] 0.3

A new constraint on the theory of stellar interiors and model atmospheres

Y. Lebreton 1, M.-N. Perrin 2, R. Cayrel 2, A. Baglin 3 and J. Fernandes 4

1 DASGAL, CNRS URA 335, Observatoire de Paris, Place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France (Yveline.Lebreton@obspm.fr)
2 DASGAL, CNRS URA 335, Observatoire de Paris, 61 Av. de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
3 DESPA, CNRS URA 264, Observatoire de Paris, Place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
4 Observatório Astronómico da Universidade de Coimbra, 3040 Coimbra, Portugal

Received 26 March 1999 / Accepted 19 July 1999


The Hipparcos mission has provided very high quality parallaxes of a sample of a hundred nearby disk stars, of spectral types F to K. In parallel, bolometric fluxes, effective temperatures, and accurate Fe/H ratios of many of these stars became available through infrared photometry and detailed spectroscopic analyses. These new accurate data allow to build the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of stars of the solar neighbourhood with the smallest error bars ever obtained.

We analyse these observations by means of theoretical stellar models, computed with the most recent input physics.

We first examine the positions of the objects versus standard theoretical isochrones, corresponding to their chemical composition and age. For these isochrones we have first assumed that the helium content was varying in locksteps with metallicity. The comparison becomes age-independent in the lower part of the HR diagram, where evolutionary effects are negligible. We show that for the unevolved stars, the agreement between real stars and models is fairly satisfactory for stars with metallicity within [FORMULA] 0.3 dex of the solar metallicity, but that a conflict exists for stars with metallicity less than [Fe/H] = -0.5. This conflict cannot be resolved by decreasing the helium abundance: values of this abundance below the primordial abundance would be required.

On the basis of recent works, we show that the addition of two processes not included in standard models can help solving the above discrepancy. These are (i) correcting the LTE iron abundances using a non-LTE approach and (ii) including microscopic diffusion of He and heavier elements in the stellar interior. The case of the binary star µ Cas is particularly useful to support this conclusion as its mass is also known from its orbit. After inclusion of the two effects, µ Cas A falls on its expected isochrone, within the error bars corresponding to its mass.

All stars with -0.3 [FORMULA] [Fe/H] [FORMULA] 0.3 are located between the helium-scaled isochrones corresponding to these metallicities. However five of them are not located exactly where they are expected to be for their metallicity. This may reflect a helium content lower than the metallicity-scaled value. But not necessarily, as a possible sedimentation of the elements might complicate the determination of the helium content. The age of main sequence solar composition stars covers a large range, and the effects of sedimentation are time dependent.

Key words: stars: abundances – stars: Hertzsprung – Russell (HR) and C-M diagrams – stars: interiors – stars: late-type – Galaxy: abundances – Galaxy: solar neighbourhood

Send offprint requests to: Y. Lebreton

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: October 4, 1999