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Published March 2013 | Published
Journal Article Open

Precise High-cadence Time Series Observations of Five Variable Young Stars in Auriga with MOST

Abstract

To explore young star variability on a large range of timescales, we have used the MOST satellite to obtain 24 days of continuous, sub-minute cadence, high-precision optical photometry on a field of classical and weak-lined T Tauri stars (TTSs) in the Taurus-Auriga star formation complex. Observations of AB Aurigae, SU Aurigae, V396 Aurigae, V397 Aurigae, and HD 31305 reveal brightness fluctuations at the 1%-10% level on timescales of hours to weeks. We have further assessed the variability properties with Fourier, wavelet, and autocorrelation techniques, identifying one significant period per star. We present spot models in an attempt to fit the periodicities, but find that we cannot fully account for the observed variability. Rather, all stars exhibit a mixture of periodic and aperiodic behavior, with the latter dominating stochastically on timescales less than several days. After removal of the main periodicity, periodograms for each light curve display power-law trends consistent with those seen for other young accreting stars. Several of our targets exhibited unusual variability patterns not anticipated by prior studies, and we propose that this behavior originates with the circumstellar disks. The MOST observations underscore the need for investigation of TTS light variations on a wide range of timescales in order to elucidate the physical processes responsible; we provide guidelines for future time series observations.

Additional Information

© 2013 American Astronomical Society. Received 2012 November 29; accepted 2013 January 11; published 2013 February 13. Based on data from the MOST satellite, a Canadian Space Agency mission, jointly operated by Systems Canada Inc. (MSCI), formerly part of Dynacon, Inc., the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, and the University of British Columbia with the assistance of the University of Vienna. Thanks to Kunal Mooley, Konstanze Zwintz, Slavek Rucinski, Scott Gregory, and Evelyn Alecian for helpful discussions. These observations were obtained under NASA grant NNX09AH27G.

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