Rotational and Cyclical Variability in γ Cassiopeia Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We report results of a nine-year monitoring effort on the unusual classical Be with a robotic ground-based (APT) B,V-filtered telescope as well as simultaneous observations in 2004 November with this instrument and the RXTE (X-ray) telescope. Our observations disclosed no correlated optical response to the rapid X-ray flares in this star, nor did the star show any sustained flux changes during the course of either of the two monitored nights in either wavelength regime. Our optical light curves reveal that gamma Cas undergoes \~3%-amplitude cycles with lengths of 60--90 days. Over the nine days we monitored the star with the RXTE, the X-ray flux varied in phase with its optical cycle and with an amplitude predicted from correlated optical/X-ray data from an earlier paper. The amplitudes of the V magnitude cycles are 30--40% larger than the B amplitudes, suggesting the seat of the cycles is circumstellar. The cycle lengths constantly change and can damp or grow on timescales as short as 13 days. We have also discovered a coherent period of 1.21581 +/-0.00002 days in all our data, which is consistent only with rotation. The full amplitude of this variation is 0.0060 in both filters. The derived waveform, somewhat surprisingly, is almost sawtooth in shape. This variation probably originates on the star's surface. This circumstance hints at the existence of a strong magnetic field with a complex topology and an associated heterogeneous surface composition.

publication date

  • August 20, 2006