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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

Extreme Infrared Variables from UKIDSS - I. A Concentration in Star Forming Regions

C. Contreras Peña, P. W. Lucas, D. Froebrich, M. S. N. Kumar, J. Goldstein, J. E. Drew, A. Adamson, C. J. Davis, G. Barentsen, N. J. Wright

Abstract
We present initial results of the first panoramic search for high-amplitude near-infrared variability in the Galactic Plane. We analyse the widely separated two-epoch K-band photometry in the 5th and 7th data releases of the UKIDSS Galactic Plane Survey. We find 45 stars with ΔK > 1 mag, including 2 previously known OH/IR stars and a Nova. Even though the mid-plane is not yet included in the dataset, we find the majority (66%) of our sample to be within known star forming regions (SFRs), with two large concentrations in the Serpens OB2 association (11 stars) and the Cygnus-X complex (12 stars). Sources in SFRs show spectral energy distributions (SEDs) that support classification as Young Stellar Objects (YSOs). This indicates that YSOs dominate the Galactic population of high amplitude infrared variable stars at low luminosities and therefore likely dominate the total high amplitude population. Spectroscopic follow up of the DR5 sample shows at least four stars with clear characteristics of eruptive pre-main-sequence variables, two of which are deeply embedded. Our results support the recent concept of eruptive variability comprising a continuum of outburst events with different timescales and luminosities, but triggered by a similar physical mechanism involving unsteady accretion. Also, we find what appears to be one of the most variable classical Be stars.

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

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume 439, Page 1829
April 2014

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