Volume 570, October 2014
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||08 October 2014|
Evidence from stellar rotation of enhanced disc dispersal
I. The case of the triple visual system BD−21 1074 in the β Pictoris association
INAF-Catania Astrophysical Observatory,
via S.Sofia, 78,
2 Klein Karoo Observatory, Calizdorp, 6660 Klein Karoo Western Cape, South Africa
3 ESO – European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Vitacura Casilla 19001 Santiago 19, Chile
Received: 18 March 2014
Accepted: 31 July 2014
Context. The early stage of stellar evolution is characterized by a magnetic coupling between a star and its accretion disc, known as a star-disc locking mechanism. The disc-locking prevents the star to spin its rotation up, and its timescale depends on the disc lifetime, which should not be longer than about 10 Myr. Some mechanisms can significantly shorten this lifetime, allowing a few stars to start spinning up much earlier than other stars and increasing the observed rotation period dispersion among coeval stars.
Aims. In the present study, we aim to investigate how the properties of the circumstellar environment can shorten the disc lifetime, more specifically the presence of a close stellar companion.
Methods. We have identified a few multiple stellar systems, composed of stars with similar masses, which belong to associations with a known age. Since all parameters that are responsible for the rotational evolution, with the exception of environment properties and initial stellar rotation, are similar for all components, we expect that significant differences among the rotation periods can only arise from differences in the disc lifetimes. A photometric timeseries allowed us to measure the rotation periods of each component, while high-resolution spectra provided us with the fundamental parameters, v sin i and chromospheric line fluxes.
Results. In the present study, we have collected timeseries photometry of BD−21 1074, a member of the 21 Myr old β Pictoris association, and measured the rotation periods of its brightest components A and B. They differ significantly, and the component B, which has a closer companion C, rotates faster than the more distant and isolated component A. It also displays a slightly higher chromospheric activity level.
Conclusions. Since components A and B have similar mass, age, and initial chemical composition, we can ascribe the rotation period difference to either different initial rotation periods or different disc-locking phases arising from the presence of the close companion C. In the specific case of BD−21 1074, the second scenario seems to be more favored. However, a statistically meaningful sample is yet needed to be able to infer which scenario is more likely. In our hypothesis of different disc-locking phase, any planet orbiting this star, if found by future investigations, is likely formed very rapidly owing to a gravitational instability mechanism, rather than core accretion. Only a large difference of initial rotation periods alone could account for the observed period difference, leaving comparable disc lifetimes.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: low-mass / starspots / stars: pre-main sequence / stars: rotation
© ESO, 2014
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