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How Variable is Accretion in Young Stars?
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2009 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

We analyze the variability in accretion-related emission lines for 40 Classical T Tauri stars to probe the extent of accretion variations in young stellar objects. Our analysis is based on multi-epoch high-resolution spectra for young stars in Tau-Aur and Cha I. For all stars, we obtain typically four spectra, covering timescales from hours to months. As proxies for the accretion rate, we use the H-alpha 10% width and the CaII-8662 line flux. We find that while the two quantities are correlated, their variability amplitude is not. Converted to accretion rates, the CaII fluxes indicate typical accretion rate changes of 0.35 dex, with 32% exceeding 0.5 dex, while H-alpha 10% width suggests changes of 0.65 dex, with 66% exceeding 0.5 dex. We conclude that CaII fluxes are a more robust quantitative indicator of accretion than H-alpha 10% width, and that intrinsic accretion rate changes typically do not exceed 0.5 dex on timescales of days to months. The maximum extent of the variability is reached after a few days, suggesting that rotation is the dominant cause of variability. We see a decline of the inferred accretion rates towards later spectral types, reflecting the dM/dt vs. M relationship. There is a gap between accretors and non-accretors, pointing to a rapid shutdown of accretion. We conclude that the ~2 orders of magnitude scatter in the dM/dt vs. M relationship is dominated by object-to-object scatter instead of intrinsic source variability.

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Keyword [en]
Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-35867OAI: diva2:288205
Available from: 2010-01-20 Created: 2010-01-20 Last updated: 2011-02-15Bibliographically approved

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Brandeker, Alexis
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Department of Astronomy

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