Volume 553, May 2013
|Number of page(s)||13|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||29 April 2013|
Flip-flops of FK Comae Berenices⋆,⋆⋆
1 Department of Physics, PO Box 64, 00014 University of
2 Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA), University of Turku, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
3 Tartu Observatory, Tõravere, 61602, Estonia
4 Aalto University, Department of Information and Computer Science, PO Box 15400, 00076 Aalto, Finland
5 Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
6 Centre for Star and Planet Formation, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5 − 7, 1350 København Ø, Denmark
7 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14882 Potsdam, Germany
8 Nordic Optical Telescope, 38700 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Spain
Received: 3 November 2012
Accepted: 5 March 2013
Context.FK Comae Berenices is a rapidly rotating magnetically active star, the light curve of which is modulated by cool spots on its surface. It was the first star where the “flip-flop” phenomenon was discovered. Since then, flip-flops in the spot activity have been reported in many other stars. Follow-up studies with increasing length have shown, however, that the phenomenon is more complex than was thought right after its discovery.
Aims. Therefore, it is of interest to perform a more thorough study of the evolution of the spot activity in FK Com. In this study, we analyse 15 years of photometric observations with two different time series analysis methods, with a special emphasis on detecting flip-flop type events from the data.
Methods. We apply the continuous period search and carrier fit methods on long-term standard Johnson-Cousins V-observations from the years 1995−2010. The observations were carried out with two automated photometric telescopes, Phoenix-10 and Amadeus T7 located in Arizona.
Results. We identify complex phase behaviour in 6 of the 15 analysed data segments. We identify five flip-flop events and two cases of phase jumps, where the phase shift is Δφ < 0.4. In addition we see two mergers of spot regions and two cases where the apparent phase shifts are caused by spot regions drifting with respect to each other. Furthermore we detect variations in the rotation period corresponding to a differential rotation coefficient of |k| > 0.031.
Conclusions. The flip-flop cannot be interpreted as a single phenomenon, where the main activity jumps from one active longitude to another. In some of our cases the phase shifts can be explained by differential rotation: two spot regions move with different angular velocity and even pass each other. Comparison between the methods show that the carrier fit utility is better in retrieving slow evolution especially from a low amplitude light curve, while the continuous period search is more sensitive in case of rapid changes.
Key words: stars: late-type / stars: activity / starspots / dynamo / stars: individual: FK Comae Berenices
Based on data obtained with the Amadeus T7 Automatic Photoelectric Telescope (APT) at Fairborn Observatory, jointly operated by the University of Vienna and AIP, the Phoenix-10 APT at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, and the Nordic Optical Telescope, Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma, Canary Islands.
The photometric observations are only available in electronic form at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (220.127.116.11) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/553/A40
© ESO, 2013
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