SCYON Abstract

Received on May 3 2004

Rotation and accretion of very low mass objects in the sigma Ori cluster

AuthorsAlexander Scholz and Jochen Eislöffel
AffiliationThüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg
Accepted byAstronomy & Astrophysics


We report on two photometric monitoring campaigns of Very Low Mass (VLM) objects in the young open cluster around sigma Orionis. Our targets were pre-selected with multi-filter photometry in a field of 0.36 square degree. For 23 of these objects, spanning a mass range from 0.03 to 0.7 M_sun, we detect periodic variability. Of these, 16 exhibit low-level variability, with amplitudes of less than 0.2 mag in the I-band, which is mostly well-approximated by a sine wave. These periodicities are probably caused by photospheric spots co-rotating with the objects. In contrast, the remaining variable targets show high-level variability with amplitudes ranging from 0.25 to 1.1 mag, consisting of a periodic light variation onto which short-term fluctuations are superimposed. This variability pattern is very similar to the photometric behaviour of solar-mass, classical T Tauri stars. Low-resolution spectra of a few of these objects reveal strong Halpha and Ca-triplet emission, indicative of ongoing accretion processes. This suggests that 5-7% of our targets still possess a circumstellar disk. In combination with previous results for younger objects, this translates into a disk lifetime of 3-4 Myr, significantly shorter than for solar mass stars. The highly variable objects rotate on average slower than the low-amplitude variables, which is expected in terms of a disk-locking scenario. There is a trend towards faster rotation with decreasing mass, which might be caused by shortening of the disk lifetimes or attenuation of magnetic fields.