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The β Cephei stars represent an important class of massive star pulsators that probe the evolution of B-type stars and the transition from main sequence to hydrogen-shell burning evolution. By understanding β Cep stars, we gain insights into the detailed physics of massive star evolution, including rotational mixing, convective core overshooting, magnetic fields, and stellar winds, all of which play important roles. Similarly, modeling their pulsation provides additional information into their interior structures. Furthermore, measurements of the rate of change of pulsation period offer a direct measure of β Cephei stellar evolution. In this work, we compute state-of-the-art stellar evolution models assuming different amounts of initial rotation and convective core overshoot and measure the theoretical rates of period change, that we compare to rates previously measured for a sample of β Cephei stars. The results of this comparison are mixed. For three stars, the rates are too low to infer any information from stellar evolution models, whereas for three other stars the rates are too high. We infer stellar parameters, such as mass and age, for two β Cephei stars: ξ1 CMa and δ Cet, which agree well with independent measurements. We explore ideas for why models may not predict the higher rates of period change. In particular, period drifts in β Cep stars can artificially lead to overestimated rates of secular period change.

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Reproduced with permission from Astronomy & Astrophysics, © 2015 ESO