EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 405, Number 2, July II 2003
Page(s) 733 - 745
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030650

A&A 405, 733-745 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030650

Long-term photometric behaviour of the RS CVn binary RT Lac ertae

Ö. Çakirli1, C. Ibanoglu1, G. Djurasevic2, S. Erkapic2, S. Evren1 and G. Tas1

1  Ege University Observatory, Bornova, Izmir, Turkey
2  Astronomical Observatory, Volgina 7, 11160 Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Isaac Newton Institute of Chile, Yugoslav branch

(Received 11 December 2002 / Accepted 24 April 2003 )

A sequence of the seasonal light curves of RT Lac, covering the period 1978-2000, is analysed in the framework of the starspot hypothesis to define the spot distribution, based on the interpretation of the B-band observations. The analysis of the corresponding light curves is made using Djurasevic's inverse-problem method. To explain the light-curve variations we modelled the binary system using a Roche model that involved regions containing spots on both components. Satisfactory fits were obtained assuming spots on both components. The more-massive G5 primary appears to be the most active star in the system and its spotted areas are mainly responsible for the light-curve distortions. Spots are concentrated around longitudes 45 $\degr$-170 $\degr$ and at high latitudes (above 45 $\degr$). Our analysis indicates two spots with diameters of ~10 $\degr$-50 $\degr$ on both hemispheres of the primary. However, the less-massive cool component seems to have only one spot which covers a relatively small area. Total spotted area of the more-massive primary component indicates clear evidence for a short-term activity cycle with a period of 8.4 yr, and a possible long-term cycle with a period of 33.5 yr. The G9IV secondary does not show any evidence for an activity cycle, its spot coverage appearing rather constant at about 10% of its surface. The variation of the orbital period seems to be correlated with the total activity level of the system. In particular, the decrement of the orbital period appears to be associated with minimum spottedness and sizeable changes of the surface spot pattern distribution on the surface of each star. This result, if confirmed by the future observations, can provide further support for recently proposed models for connection between the magnetic activity and orbital period variations.

Key words: stars: activity -- binaries: close -- stars: individual: RT Lacertae -- starspots

Offprint request: Ö. Çakirli, cakirli@astronomy.sci.ege.edu.tr

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