Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 465, 3889-3901 (2017/March-2)
Long-term variability of T Tauri stars using WASP.
RIGON L., SCHOLZ A., ANDERSON D. and WEST R.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a reference study of the long-term optical variability of young stars using data from the WASP project. Our primary sample is a group of well-studied classical T Tauri stars (CTTSs), mostly in Taurus-Auriga. WASP light curves cover time-scales of up to 7 yr and typically contain 10 000-30 000 data points. We quantify the variability as a function of time-scale using the time-dependent standard deviation 'pooled sigma'. We find that the overwhelming majority of CTTSs have a low-level variability with σ < 0.3 mag dominated by time-scales of a few weeks, consistent with rotational modulation. Thus, for most young stars, monitoring over a month is sufficient to constrain the total amount of variability over time-scales of up to a decade. The fraction of stars with a strong optical variability (σ > 0.3 mag) is 21 per cent in our sample and 21 per cent in an unbiased control sample. An even smaller fraction (13 per cent in our sample, 6 per cent in the control) show evidence for an increase in variability amplitude as a function of time-scale from weeks to months or years. The presence of long-term variability correlates with the spectral slope at 3-5 µm, which is an indicator of inner disc geometry, and with the U-B band slope, which is an accretion diagnostics. This shows that the long-term variations in CTTSs are predominantly driven by processes in the inner disc and in the accretion zone. Four of the stars with long-term variations show periods of 20-60 d, significantly longer than the rotation periods and stable over months to years. One possible explanation is cyclic changes in the interaction between the disc and the stellar magnetic field.