A Model for (Quasi-)Periodic Multiwavelength Photometric Variability in Young Stellar Objects

September 2016 • 2016ApJ...828...42K

Authors • Kesseli, Aurora Y. • Petkova, Maya A. • Wood, Kenneth • Whitney, Barbara A. • Hillenbrand, L. A. • Gregory, Scott G. • Stauffer, J. R. • Morales-Calderon, M. • Rebull, L. • Alencar, S. H. P.

Abstract • We present radiation transfer models of rotating young stellar objects (YSOs) with hot spots in their atmospheres, inner disk warps, and other three-dimensional effects in the nearby circumstellar environment. Our models are based on the geometry expected from magneto-accretion theory, where material moving inward in the disk flows along magnetic field lines to the star and creates stellar hot spots upon impact. Due to rotation of the star and magnetosphere, the disk is variably illuminated. We compare our model light curves to data from the Spitzer YSOVAR project to determine if these processes can explain the variability observed at optical and mid-infrared wavelengths in young stars. We focus on those variables exhibiting “dipper” behavior that may be periodic, quasi-periodic, or aperiodic. We find that the stellar hot-spot size and temperature affects the optical and near-infrared light curves, while the shape and vertical extent of the inner disk warp affects the mid-IR light curve variations. Clumpy disk distributions with non-uniform fractal density structure produce more stochastic light curves. We conclude that magneto-accretion theory is consistent with certain aspects of the multiwavelength photometric variability exhibited by low-mass YSOs. More detailed modeling of individual sources can be used to better determine the stellar hot-spot and inner disk geometries of particular sources.


IPAC Authors


Aurora Kesseli

Assistant Scientist


Luisa Rebull

Senior Research Scientist