Transition from spot to faculae domination
An alternate explanation for the dearth of intermediate Kepler rotation periods⋆
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 Stellar Astrophysics Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, 120 Ny Munkegade, Building 1520, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Accepted: 22 October 2018
Context. The study of stellar activity cycles is crucial to understand the underlying dynamo and how it causes magnetic activity signatures such as dark spots and bright faculae. Having knowledge about the dominant source of surface activity might allow us to draw conclusions about the stellar age and magnetic field topology, and to put the solar cycle in context.
Aims. We investigate the underlying process that causes magnetic activity by studying the appearance of activity signatures in contemporaneous photometric and chromospheric time series.
Methods. Lomb-Scargle periodograms are used to search for cycle periods present in the photometric and chromospheric time series. To emphasize the signature of the activity cycle we account for rotation-induced scatter in both data sets by fitting a quasi-periodic Gaussian process model to each observing season. After subtracting the rotational variability, cycle amplitudes and the phase difference between the two time series are obtained by fitting both time series simultaneously using the same cycle period.
Results. We find cycle periods in 27 of the 30 stars in our sample. The phase difference between the two time series reveals that the variability in fast-rotating active stars is usually in anti-phase, while the variability of slowly rotating inactive stars is in phase. The photometric cycle amplitudes are on average six times larger for the active stars. The phase and amplitude information demonstrates that active stars are dominated by dark spots, whereas less-active stars are dominated by bright faculae. We find the transition from spot to faculae domination to be at the Vaughan–Preston gap, and around a Rossby number equal to one.
Conclusions. We conclude that faculae are the dominant ingredient of stellar activity cycles at ages ≳2.55 Gyr. The data further suggest that the Vaughan–Preston gap cannot explain the previously detected dearth of Kepler rotation periods between 15 and 25 days. Nevertheless, our results led us to propose an explanation for the lack of rotation periods to be due to the non-detection of periodicity caused by the cancelation of dark spots and bright faculae at ∼800 Myr.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: rotation
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