High precision with the whole earth telescope: Lessons and some results from XCov20 for the roAp star HR 1217


HR 1217 is a prototypical rapidly oscillating Ap star that has presented a test to the theory of nonradial stellar pulsation. Prior observations showed a clear pattern of five modes with alternating frequency spacings of 33.3 μHz and 34.6 μHz, with a sixth mode at a problematic spacing of 50.0 μHz (which equals 1.5 × 33.3 μHz) to the high-frequency side. Asymptotic pulsation theory allowed for a frequency spacing of 34 μHz, but HIPPARCOS observations rule out such a spacing. Theoretical calculations of magnetoacoustic modes in Ap stars by Cunha (2001) predicted that there should be a previously undetected mode 34 μHz higher than the main group, with a smaller spacing between it and the highest one. The 20th extended coverage campaign of the Whole Earth Telescope (XCov20) has discovered this frequency as predicted by Cunha (2001). Amplitude modulation of several of the pulsation modes between the 1986 and 2000 data sets has also been discovered, while important parameters for modelling the geometry of the pulsation modes have been shown to be unchanged. With stringent selection of the best data from the WET network the amplitude spectrum shows highest peaks at only 50 μmag and formal errors on the determined amplitudes are 14 μmag. Some lessons for future use of WET for the highest precision photometry on bright stars are discussed.

Document Type





HR1217, Individual, RoAp stars - stars, Stars

Publication Date


Journal Title

Baltic Astronomy