Starspot rotation rates versus activity cycle phase: Butterfly diagrams of Kepler stars are unlike that of the Sun⋆
Center for Space Science, NYUAD Institute, New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Abu Dhabi, UAE
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
3 Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
4 High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307-3000, USA
Accepted: 5 December 2018
Context. During the solar magnetic activity cycle the emergence latitudes of sunspots change, leading to the well-known butterfly diagram. This phenomenon is poorly understood for other stars since starspot latitudes are generally unknown. The related changes in starspot rotation rates caused by latitudinal differential rotation can, however, be measured.
Aims. Using the set of 3093 Kepler stars with measured activity cycles, we aim to study the temporal change in starspot rotation rates over magnetic activity cycles, and how this relates to the activity level, the mean rotation rate of the star, and its effective temperature.
Methods. We measured the photometric variability as a proxy for the magnetic activity and the spot rotation rate in each quarter over the duration of the Kepler mission. We phase-folded these measurements with the cycle period. To reduce random errors, we performed averages over stars with comparable mean rotation rates and effective temperature at fixed activity-cycle phases.
Results. We detect a clear correlation between the variation of activity level and the variation of the starspot rotation rate. The sign and amplitude of this correlation depends on the mean stellar rotation and – to a lesser extent – on the effective temperature. For slowly rotating stars (rotation periods between 15 − 28 days), the starspot rotation rates are clearly anti-correlated with the level of activity during the activity cycles. A transition is observed around rotation periods of 10 − 15 days, where stars with an effective temperature above 4200 K instead show positive correlation.
Conclusions. Our measurements can be interpreted in terms of a stellar “butterfly diagram”, but these appear different from that of the Sun since the starspot rotation rates are either in phase or anti-phase with the activity level. Alternatively, the activity cycle periods observed by Kepler are short (around 2.5 years) and may therefore be secondary cycles, perhaps analogous to the solar quasi-biennial oscillations.
Key words: methods: data analysis / techniques: photometric / stars: activity / stars: rotation / starspots
Rotation and activity tables are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/622/A85
© ESO 2019