Kepler’s first view of O-star variability: K2 data of five O stars in Campaign 0 as a proof of concept for O-star asteroseismology

Authors. B. Buysschaert, C. Aerts, S. Bloemen, J. Debosscher, C. Neiner, M. Briquet, J. Vos, P. Papics, R. Manick, V. Schmid, H. Van Winkel, A. Tkachenko

Journal. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Abstract. We present high-precision photometric light curves of five O-type stars observed with the refurbished Kepler satellite during its Campaign 0. For one of the stars, we also assembled high-resolution ground-based spectroscopy with the HERMES spectrograph attached to the 1.2 m Mercator telescope. The stars EPIC 202060097 (O9.5V) and EPIC 202060098 (O7V) exhibit monoperiodic variability due to rotational modulation with an amplitude of 5.6 and 9.3 mmag and a rotation period of 2.63 and 5.03 d, respectively. EPIC 202060091 (O9V) and EPIC 202060093 (O9V:pe) reveal variability at low frequency but the cause is unclear. EPIC 202060092 (O9V:p) is discovered to be a spectroscopic binary with at least one multiperiodic β Cep-type pulsator whose detected mode frequencies occur in the range [0.11, 6.99] d-1 and have amplitudes between 0.8 and 2.0 mmag. Its pulsation spectrum is shown to be fully compatible with the ones predicted by core-hydrogen burning O-star models. Despite the short duration of some 33 d and the limited data quality with a precision near 100 μmag of these first K2 data, the diversity of possible causes for O-star variability already revealed from campaigns of similar duration by the MOST and CoRoT satellites is confirmed with Kepler. We provide an overview of O-star space photometry and give arguments why future K2 monitoring during Campaigns 11 and 13 at short cadence, accompanied by time-resolved high-precision high-resolution spectroscopy, opens up the possibility of in-depth O-star seismology.