Volume 651, July 2021
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||14 July 2021|
Letter to the Editor
Detection of photometric variability in the very low-mass binary VHS J1256-1257AB using TESS and Spitzer
European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Straße 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
Accepted: 25 June 2021
Aims. We investigate the photometric properties of the M7.5 equal-mass binary VHS J1256-1257AB, which, combined with the late-L dwarf VHS J1256-1257 b, forms one of the few young triple systems of ultra-cool dwarfs currently known.
Methods. We analyzed two-minute TESS and two-second Spitzer archival data with total durations of about 25 days and 36 h, respectively. Typical precision in the data is ±1.5% for TESS and ±0.1% (in 1 min) for Spitzer.
Results. The optical and infrared light curves periodically exhibit epochs of quasi-sinusoidal modulation followed by epochs of stochastic variability, which resembles the beat pattern created by two waves of similar frequencies that interfere with each other. Our two-wave model for the TESS data shows that the components of VHS J1256-1257AB rotate with periods of 2.0782 ± 0.0004 h and 2.1342 ± 0.0003 h, which is also supported by the Spitzer observations. As a result, the fluxes of the equally bright VHS J1256-1257A and B alternate between states of phase and anti-phase, explaining the observed photometric variability in their combined light. The projected spectroscopic velocity of VHS J1256-1257AB is remarkably similar to those obtained by combining the measured rotation periods and the expected radii, which indicates that the spin axes of VHS J1256-1257A and B are likely inclined at nearly 90 deg, as previously reported for VHS J1256-1257 b.
Key words: brown dwarfs / stars: rotation / stars: late-type / stars: low-mass / stars: atmospheres / stars: individual: VHS J1256-1257
© ESO 2021
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