Variability of young stellar objects in the star-forming region Pelican Nebula

A. Bhardwaj, N. Panwar, G. J. Herczeg, W. P. Chen, H. P. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Context. Pre-main-sequence variability characteristics can be used to probe the physical processes leading to the formation and initial evolution of both stars and planets. Aims. The photometric variability of pre-main-sequence stars is studied at optical wavelengths to explore star-disk interactions, accretion, spots, and other physical mechanisms associated with young stellar objects. Methods. We observed a field of 16′ × 16′ in the star-forming region Pelican Nebula (IC 5070) at BVRI wavelengths for 90 nights spread over one year in 2012-2013. More than 250 epochs in the VRI bands are used to identify and classify variables up to V ∼ 21 mag. Their physical association with the cluster IC 5070 is established based on the parallaxes and proper motions from the Gaia second data release (DR2). Multiwavelength photometric data are used to estimate physical parameters based on the isochrone fitting and spectral energy distributions. Results. We present a catalog of optical time-series photometry with periods, mean magnitudes, and classifications for 95 variable stars including 67 pre-main-sequence variables towards star-forming region IC 5070. The pre-main-sequence variables are further classified as candidate classical T Tauri and weak-line T Tauri stars based on their light curve variations and the locations on the color-color and color-magnitude diagrams using optical and infrared data together with Gaia DR2 astrometry. Classical T Tauri stars display variability amplitudes up to three times the maximum fluctuation in disk-free weak-line T Tauri stars, which show strong periodic variations. Short-term variability is missed in our photometry within single nights. Several classical T Tauri stars display long-lasting (≥10 days) single or multiple fading and brightening events of up to two magnitudes at optical wavelengths. The typical mass and age of the pre-main-sequence variables from the isochrone fitting and spectral energy distributions are estimated to be ≤1 Mo and ∼2 Myr, respectively.We do not find any correlation between the optical amplitudes or periods with the physical parameters (mass and age) of pre-main-sequence stars. Conclusions. The low-mass pre-main-sequence stars in the Pelican Nebula region display distinct variability and color trends and nearly 30% of the variables exhibit strong periodic signatures attributed to cold spot modulations. In the case of accretion bursts and extinction events, the average amplitudes are larger than one magnitude at optical wavelengths. These optical magnitude fluctuations are stable on a timescale of one year.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA135
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Open clusters and associations: general
  • Stars: low-mass
  • Stars: pre-main sequence
  • Stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be


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