CSI 2264: Characterizing Accretion-burst Dominated Light Curves for Young Stars in NGC 2264

April 2014 • 2014AJ....147...83S

Authors • Stauffer, John • Cody, Ann Marie • Baglin, Annie • Alencar, Silvia • Rebull, Luisa • Hillenbrand, Lynne A. • Venuti, Laura • Turner, Neal J. • Carpenter, John • Plavchan, Peter • Findeisen, Krzysztof • Carey, Sean • Terebey, Susan • Morales-Calderón, María • Bouvier, Jerome • Micela, Giusi • Flaccomio, Ettore • Song, Inseok • Gutermuth, Rob • Hartmann, Lee • Calvet, Nuria • Whitney, Barbara • Barrado, David • Vrba, Frederick J. • Covey, Kevin • Herbst, William • Furesz, Gabor • Aigrain, Suzanne • Favata, Fabio

Abstract • Based on more than four weeks of continuous high-cadence photometric monitoring of several hundred members of the young cluster NGC 2264 with two space telescopes, NASA's Spitzer and the CNES CoRoT (Convection, Rotation, and planetary Transits), we provide high-quality, multi-wavelength light curves for young stellar objects whose optical variability is dominated by short-duration flux bursts, which we infer are due to enhanced mass accretion rates. These light curves show many brief—several hours to one day—brightenings at optical and near-infrared wavelengths with amplitudes generally in the range of 5%-50% of the quiescent value. Typically, a dozen or more of these bursts occur in a 30 day period. We demonstrate that stars exhibiting this type of variability have large ultraviolet (UV) excesses and dominate the portion of the u - g versus g - r color-color diagram with the largest UV excesses. These stars also have large Hα equivalent widths, and either centrally peaked, lumpy Hα emission profiles or profiles with blueshifted absorption dips associated with disk or stellar winds. Light curves of this type have been predicted for stars whose accretion is dominated by Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities at the boundary between their magnetosphere and inner circumstellar disk, or where magneto-rotational instabilities modulate the accretion rate from the inner disk. Among the stars with the largest UV excesses or largest Hα equivalent widths, light curves with this type of variability greatly outnumber light curves with relatively smooth sinusoidal variations associated with long-lived hot spots. We provide quantitative statistics for the average duration and strength of the accretion bursts and for the fraction of the accretion luminosity associated with these bursts.

Based on data from the Spitzer and CoRoT missions, as well as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) MegaCam CCD, and the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope, Paranal Chile, under program 088.C-0239. The CoRoT space mission was developed and is operated by the French space agency CNES, with participation of ESA's RSSD and Science Programmes, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, and Spain. MegaCam is a joint project of CFHT and CEA/DAPNIA, which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institute National des Sciences de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France, and the University of Hawaii.


IPAC Authors

Sean Carey

Senior Scientist


Luisa Rebull

Senior Research Scientist