Context. Long-period variable stars (LPVs) are pulsating red giants, primarily in the asymptotic giant branch phase, and they include both Miras and semi-regular variables (SRVs). Their period-age and period-luminosity relations enable us to trace different stellar populations, as they are intrinsically very bright and cover a wide range in distances and ages. Aims. The purpose of this study is to establish a census of LPV stars in a region close to the Galactic center, using the six-year database of the Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) ESO Public Survey, as well as to describe the methodology that was employed to search for and characterize LPVs using VVV data. Near-IR surveys such as VVV provide a unique opportunity to probe the high-extinction innermost regions of the Milky Way. The detection and analysis of the intrinsically bright Miras in this region could provide us with an excellent probe of the properties of the Milky Way far behind its bulge. Methods. We used point-spread function photometry for all available Ks-band images in ten VVV tiles, covering 16.42 in total, overlapping fields observed in the course of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE)-III survey. We designed a method to select LPV candidates, and we used the known variables from OGLE-III and other known variables from the literature to test our approach. The reduced I2 statistic, along with the flux-independent index K(fi), were used in our analysis. The Lomb-Scargle period search method, Fourier analysis, template fitting, and visual inspection were then performed to refine our sample and characterize the properties of the stars included in our catalog. Results. A final sample of 130 Mira candidates, of which 129 are new discoveries, was thus obtained, with periods in the range between about 80 and 1400 days. Moreover, a sample of 1013 LPV candidates is also presented, whose periods are however not sufficiently constrained by the available data. A fraction of the latter may eventually turn out to be SRVs. Ages are measured for these stars based on a reassessment of the period-age relations available in the literature. The Miras in our catalog include 18 stars satisfying the requirements to serve as reliable distance indicators and which are not saturated in the VVV Ks-band images. Their distances are accordingly derived and discussed. A number of objects that are seemingly placed far behind the Milky Waya' s bulge was detected.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Astronomía y astrofísica
- Ciencias planetarias y espacial