Evidence for companion-induced secular changes in the turbulent disk of a Be star in the Large Magellanic Cloud MACHO database.
STRUBLE M.F., GALATOLA A., FACCIOLI L., ALCOCK C. and CRUZ K.
Abstract (from CDS):
The light curve of a blue variable in the MACHO LMC database (FTS ID 78.5979.72) appeared nearly unvarying for about 4 yr (the quasi-flat segment) but then rapidly changed to become periodic with noisy minima for the remaining 4 yr (the periodic segment); there are no antecedent indications of a gradual approach to this change. Lomb periodogram analyses indicate the presence of two distinct periods of ∼61 and 8 days in both the quasi-flat and the periodic segments. Minima of the periodic segment cover at least 50% of the orbital period and contain spikes of light with the 8 day period; maxima do not show this short period. The system typically shows maxima to be redder than minima. The most recent OGLE-III light curve shows only a 30 day periodicity. The variable's V and R magnitudes and color are those of a Be star, and recent sets of near-infrared spectra 4 days apart, secured during the time of the OGLE-III data, show Hα emission near and at a maximum, confirming its Be star characteristics. The model that best fits the photometric behavior consists of a thin ringlike circumstellar disk of low mass with four obscuring sectors orbiting the central B star in unison at the 61 day period. The central star peers through the three equispaced separations between the four sectors producing the 8 day period. These sectors could be dusty vortices comprised of particles larger than typical interstellar dust grains that dim but selectively scatter the central star's light, while the remainder of the disk contains hydrogen in emission, making maxima appear redder. A companion star of lower mass in an inclined and highly eccentric orbit produces an impulsive perturbation near its periastron to change the disk's orientation, changing eclipses from partial to complete within ∼10 days. The most recent change to a 30 day period observed in the OGLE-III data may be caused by obscuring sectors that have coalesced into larger ones and spread out along the disk.
Stars: Emission-Line, Be - Stars: Variables: Other