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New Insights from Aperiodic Variability of Young Stars


Findeisen, Krzysztof (2015) New Insights from Aperiodic Variability of Young Stars. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z93F4MH9.


Nearly all young stars are variable, with the variability traditionally divided into two classes: periodic variables and aperiodic or "irregular" variables. Periodic variables have been studied extensively, typically using periodograms, while aperiodic variables have received much less attention due to a lack of standard statistical tools. However, aperiodic variability can serve as a powerful probe of young star accretion physics and inner circumstellar disk structure. For my dissertation, I analyzed data from a large-scale, long-term survey of the nearby North America Nebula complex, using Palomar Transient Factory photometric time series collected on a nightly or every few night cadence over several years. This survey is the most thorough exploration of variability in a sample of thousands of young stars over time baselines of days to years, revealing a rich array of lightcurve shapes, amplitudes, and timescales.

I have constrained the timescale distribution of all young variables, periodic and aperiodic, on timescales from less than a day to ~100 days. I have shown that the distribution of timescales for aperiodic variables peaks at a few days, with relatively few (~15%) sources dominated by variability on tens of days or longer. My constraints on aperiodic timescale distributions are based on two new tools, magnitude- vs. time-difference (Δm-Δt) plots and peak-finding plots, for describing aperiodic lightcurves; this thesis provides simulations of their performance and presents recommendations on how to apply them to aperiodic signals in other time series data sets. In addition, I have measured the error introduced into colors or SEDs from combining photometry of variable sources taken at different epochs. These are the first quantitative results to be presented on the distributions in amplitude and time scale for young aperiodic variables, particularly those varying on timescales of weeks to months.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:astronomy; variable stars; pre-main sequence stars; T Tauri stars; statistical methods; time domain astronomy; surveys
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hillenbrand, Lynne A.
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Steidel, Charles C. (chair)
  • Hillenbrand, Lynne A.
  • Carpenter, John M.
  • Phinney, E. Sterl
Defense Date:29 July 2014
Projects:Palomar Transient Factory
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08272014-105550096
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription article adapted for Chapter 3
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8644
Deposited By: Krzysztof Findeisen
Deposited On:29 Aug 2014 18:44
Last Modified:30 May 2023 22:14

Thesis Files

PDF (Complete thesis) - Final Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.


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