Sporadic long-term variability in radio activity from a brown dwarf
Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, N. Ireland e-mail: email@example.com
2 Computational Astrophysics Laboratory, I.T. Building, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
3 Department of Statistics, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535 Cape, South Africa
Accepted: 11 June 2007
Context.Radio activity has been observed in a large variety of stellar objects, including in the last few years, ultra-cool dwarfs.
Aims.To explore the extent of long-term radio activity in ultra-cool dwarfs.
Methods.We use data taken over an extended period of 9 hr from the Very Large Array of the source 2MASS J05233822-1403022 in September 2006, plus data taken in 2004.
Results.The observation taken in September 2006 failed to detect any radio activity at 8.46 GHz. A closer inspection of earlier data reveals that the source varied from a null detection on 3 May 2004, to ≈95 μJy on 17 May 2004, to 230 μJy on 18 June 2004. The lack of detection in September 2006 suggests at least a factor of ten flux variability at 8.46 GHz. Three short photometric runs did not reveal any optical variability.
Conclusions.In addition to the observed pulsing nature of the radio flux from another ultra-cool source, the present observations suggests that ultra-cool dwarfs may not just be pulsing but can also display long-term sporadic variability in their levels of quiescent radio emission. The lack of optical photometric variability suggests an absence of large-scale spots at the time of the latest VLA observations, although small very high latitude spots combined with a low inclination could cause very low amplitude rotational modulation which may not be measurable. We discuss this large variability in the radio emission within the context of both gyrosynchrotron emission and the electron-cyclotron maser, favoring the latter mechanism.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: atmospheres / stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs / radio continuum: stars / masers / radiation mechanisms: general
© ESO, 2007