Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 357, 451-459 (2000/5-2)
On the evolutionary status of Be stars.
FABREGAT J. and TORREJON J.M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a study of the incidence of Be stars in open clusters as a function of the cluster age, using whenever possible ages determined through Stroemgren uvby photometry. For the first time in studies of this kind we have considered separately classical and Herbig Be stars. The main results can be summarized as follows: (o) Clusters associated to emitting nebulosities and undergoing stellar formation are rich in emission line objects, which most likely are all pre main-sequence stars. No bona fide classical Be star has yet been identified among them. (o) Clusters younger than 10Myr and without associated nebulosity are almost completely lacking Be stars, although they have a complete unevolved B main sequence. (o) Classical Be stars appear at an age of 10Myr, and reach the maximum abundance in the age interval 13-25Myr. We interpret our results in the sense that the Be phenomenon is an evolutionary effect which appears in the second half of the main sequence lifetime of a B star. We propose that it can be related to main structural changes happening at this evolutionary phase, which also lead to the recently discovered non-monotonic helium abundance enhancement. The semiconvection or turbulent diffusion responsible of the surface helium enrichment, coupled with the high rotational velocity, can generate magnetic fields via the dynamo effect and thereby originate the Be phenomenon. Observational tests to this hypothesis are proposed.
stars: emission-line, Be - stars: evolution - Galaxy: open clusters and associations: general