5 years ago

Amplitude variations of modulated RV Tauri stars support the dust obscuration model of the RVb phenomenon.

L.L. Kiss, A. Bódi

Context. RV Tauri-type variables are pulsating post-AGB stars that evolve rapidly through the instability strip after leaving the Asymptotic Giant Branch. Their light variability is dominated by radial pulsations. Members of the RVb subclass show an additional variability in form of a long-term modulation of the mean brightness, for which the most popular theories all assume binarity and some kind of circumstellar dust. Here we address if the amplitude modulations are consistent with the dust obscuration model. Aims. We measure and interpret the overall changes of the mean amplitude of the pulsations along the RVb variability. Methods. We compiled long-term photometric data for RVb-type stars, including visual observations of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, ground-based CCD photometry from the OGLE and ASAS projects and ultra-precise space photometry of one star, DF Cygni, from the Kepler space telescope. After converting all the observations to flux units, we measure the cycle-to-cycle variations of the pulsation amplitude and correlate them to the actual mean fluxes. Results. We find a surprisingly uniform correlation between the pulsation amplitude and the mean flux: they scale linearly with each other for a wide range of fluxes and amplitudes. It means that the pulsation amplitude actually remains constant when measured relative to the system flux level. The apparent amplitude decrease in the faint states has long been noted in the literature but it was always claimed to be difficult to explain with the actual models of the RVb phenomenon. Here we show that when fluxes are used instead of magnitudes, the amplitude attenuation is naturally explained by periodic obscuration from a large opaque screen, one most likely corresponding to a circumbinary dusty disk that surrounds the whole system.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1711.03414

DOI: arXiv:1711.03414v1

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