- On the fine structure of the Cepheid metallicity gradient in the Galactic thin disk
- Astronomy & Astrophysics
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- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
We present homogeneous and accurate iron abundances for 42 Galactic Cepheids based on high resolution (R ~ 38 000) high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N ≥ 100) optical spectra collected with UVES at VLT (128 spectra). The above abundances were complemented with high-quality iron abundances provided either by our group (86) or available in the literature. We were careful to derive a common metallicity scale and ended up with a sample of 450 Cepheids. We also estimated accurate individual distances for the entire sample by using homogeneous near-infrared photometry and the reddening free period-Wesenheit relations. The new metallicity gradient is linear over a broad range of Galactocentric distances (RG ~ 5-19 kpc) and agrees quite well with similar estimates available in the literature (-0.060 ± 0.002 dex/kpc). We also uncover evidence that suggests that the residuals of the metallicity gradient are tightly correlated with candidate Cepheid groups (CGs). The candidate CGs have been identified as spatial overdensities of Cepheids located across the thin disk. They account for a significant fraction of the residual fluctuations, and also for the large intrinsic dispersion of the metallicity gradient. We performed a detailed comparison with metallicity gradients based on different tracers: OB stars and open clusters. We found very similar metallicity gradients for ages younger than 3 Gyr, while for older ages we found a shallower slope and an increase in the intrinsic spread. The above findings rely on homogeneous age, metallicity, and distance scales. Finally, by using a large sample of Galactic and Magellanic Cepheids for which accurate iron abundances are available, we found that the dependence of the luminosity amplitude on metallicity is vanishing.
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