Multicolor Variability of Young Stars in the Lagoon Nebula: Driving Causes and Intrinsic Timescales

September 2021 • 2021AJ....162..101V

Authors • Venuti, Laura • Cody, Ann Marie • Rebull, Luisa M. • Beccari, Giacomo • Irwin, Mike J. • Thanvantri, Sowmya • Howell, Steve B. • Barentsen, Geert

Abstract • Space observatories have provided unprecedented depictions of the many variability behaviors typical of low-mass, young stars. However, those studies have so far largely omitted more massive objects (~2 M to 4-5 M) and were limited by the absence of simultaneous, multiwavelength information. We present a new study of young star variability in the ~1-2 Myr old, massive Lagoon Nebula region. Our sample encompasses 278 young, late B to K-type stars, monitored with Kepler/K2. Auxiliary u, g, r, i, Hα time-series photometry, simultaneous with K2, was acquired at the Paranal Observatory. We employed this comprehensive data set and archival infrared photometry to determine individual stellar parameters, assess the presence of circumstellar disks, and tie the variability behaviors to inner disk dynamics. We found significant mass-dependent trends in variability properties, with B/A stars displaying substantially reduced levels of variability compared to G/K stars for any light-curve morphology. These properties suggest different magnetic field structures at the surface of early-type and later-type stars. We also detected a dearth of some disk-driven variability behaviors, particularly dippers, among stars earlier than G. This indicates that their higher surface temperatures and more chaotic magnetic fields prevent the formation and survival of inner disk dust structures corotating with the star. Finally, we examined the characteristic variability timescales within each light curve and determined that the day-to-week timescales are predominant over the K2 time series. These reflect distinct processes and locations in the inner disk environment, from intense accretion triggered by instabilities in the innermost disk regions to variable accretion efficiency in the outer magnetosphere.


IPAC Authors


Luisa Rebull

Senior Research Scientist