SCYON Abstract

Received on May 3 2004

Rotation periods for very low mass stars in the Pleiades

AuthorsAlexander Scholz and Jochen Eislöffel
Affiliation Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg
Accepted byAstronomy & Astrophysics
Links Pleiades


We present the results of a photometric monitoring campaign for very low mass (VLM) members of the Pleiades. Periodic photometric variability was detected for nine VLM stars with masses between 0.08 and 0.25 M_sun. These variations are most likely caused by co-rotating, magnetically induced spots. In comparison with solar-mass stars, the photometric amplitudes are very low (< 0.04 mag), implying that either the fraction of the spot-covered area, the asymmetry of the spot distribution, or the contrast between spots and photospheric environment decreases with mass. From our lightcurves, there is evidence for temporal evolution of the spot patterns on timescales of about two weeks. The rotation periods range from 2.9 h to 40 h and tend to increase linearly with mass. Compared with more massive stars, we clearly see a lack of slow rotators among VLM objects. The rotational evolution of VLM stars is investigated by evolving the previously published periods for very young objects (Scholz & Eislöffel 2004) forward in time, and comparing them with those observed here in the Pleiades. We find that the combination of spin-up by pre-main sequence contraction and exponential angular momentum loss through stellar winds is able to reproduce the observed period distribution in the Pleiades. This result may be explained as a consequence of convective, small-scale magnetic fields.