Achieving high accuracy and precision in stellar parameter and chemical composition determinations is challenging in massive star spectroscopy. On one hand, the target selection for an unbiased sample build-up is complicated by several types of peculiarities that can occur in individual objects. On the other hand, composite spectra are often not recognized as such even at medium-high spectral resolution and typical signal-to-noise ratios, despite multiplicity among massive stars is widespread. In particular, surveys that produce large amounts of automatically reduced data are prone to oversight of details that turn hazardous for the analysis with techniques that have been developed for a set of standard assumptions applicable to a spectrum of a single star. Much larger systematic errors than anticipated may therefore result because of the unrecognized true nature of the investigated objects, or much smaller sample sizes of objects for the analysis than initially planned, if recognized. More factors to be taken care of are the multiple steps from the choice of instrument over the details of the data reduction chain to the choice of modelling code, input data, analysis technique and the selection of the spectral lines to be analyzed. Only when avoiding all the possible pitfalls, a precise and accurate characterization of the stars in terms of fundamental parameters and chemical fingerprints can be achieved that form the basis for further investigations regarding e.g. stellar structure and evolution or the chemical evolution of the Galaxy. The scope of the present work is to provide the broader community with criteria to evaluate spectroscopic investigations of massive stars before interpreting them in a broader context. The discussion is guided by our experiences made over a decade of studies of massive star spectroscopy ranging from the simplest single objects to multiple systems.
M. Nieva and N. Przybilla
Fri, 3 Mar 17
Comments: 8 pages, 7 figures, conference proceeding (invited talk), IAUS 329: The lives and death-throes of massive stars, J.J. Eldridge, L. McClelland, L. Xiao & J. Bray, eds