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A population of eruptive variable protostars in VVV

C. Contreras Pea, P. W. Lucas, D. Minniti, R. Kurtev, W. Stimson, C. Navarro Molina, J. Borissova, M. S. N. Kumar, M. A. Thompson, T. M. Gledhill, R. Terzi, D. Froebrich, V. Cardoso, A. Caratti o Garatti

We present the discovery of 816 high-amplitude infrared variable stars (ΔKs>1 mag) in 119 deg2 of the Galactic mid-plane covered by the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) survey. Almost all are new discoveries and about 50 per cent are young stellar objects (YSOs). This provides further evidence that YSOs are the commonest high-amplitude infrared variable stars in the Galactic plane. In the 2010–2014 time series of likely YSOs, we find that the amplitude of variability increases towards younger evolutionary classes (class I and flat-spectrum sources) except on short time-scales (<25 d) where this trend is reversed. Dividing the likely YSOs by light-curve morphology, we find 106 with eruptive light curves, 45 dippers, 39 faders, 24 eclipsing binaries, 65 long-term periodic variables (P>100 d) and 162 short-term variables. Eruptive YSOs and faders tend to have the highest amplitudes and eruptive systems have the reddest spectral energy distribution (SEDs). Follow-up spectroscopy in a companion paper verifies high accretion rates in the eruptive systems. Variable extinction is disfavoured by the two epochs of colour data. These discoveries increase the number of eruptive variable YSOs by a factor of at least 5, most being at earlier stages of evolution than the known FUor and EXor types. We find that eruptive variability is at least an order of magnitude more common in class I YSOs than class II YSOs. Typical outburst durations are 1–4 yr, between those of EXors and FUors. They occur in 3–6 per cent of class I YSOs over a 4 yr time span.

AGB and post-AGB, stars: low-mass, stars: pre-main-sequence, stars: protostars, stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be, infrared: stars

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume 465, Issue 3, Page 28
2017 March

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia