Characterizing the variability of stars with early-release Kepler data

Ciardi, David R. and von Braun, Kaspar and Bryden, Geoff and van Eyken, Julian and Howell, Steve B. and Kane, Stephen R. and Plavchan, Peter and Ramirez, Solange V. and Stauffer, John R. (2011) Characterizing the variability of stars with early-release Kepler data. The Astronomical Journal, 141 (4). pp. 108-128. ISSN 0004-6256

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We present a variability analysis of the early-release first quarter of data publicly released by the Kepler project. Using the stellar parameters from the Kepler Input Catalog, we have separated the sample into 129,000 dwarfs and 17,000 giants and further sub-divided the luminosity classes into temperature bins corresponding approximately to the spectral classes A, F, G, K, and M. Utilizing the inherent sampling and time baseline of the public data set (30 minute sampling and 33.5 day baseline), we have explored the variability of the stellar sample. The overall variability rate of the dwarfs is 25% for the entire sample, but can reach 100% for the brightest groups of stars in the sample. G dwarfs are found to be the most stable with a dispersion floor of σ 0.04 mmag. At the precision of Kepler, >95% of the giant stars are variable with a noise floor of 0.1 mmag, 0.3 mmag, and 10 mmag for the G giants, K giants, and M giants, respectively. The photometric dispersion of the giants is consistent with acoustic variations of the photosphere; the photometrically derived predicted radial velocity distribution for the K giants is in agreement with the measured radial velocity distribution. We have also briefly explored the variability fraction as a function of data set baseline (1-33 days), at the native 30 minute sampling of the public Kepler data. To within the limitations of the data, we find that the overall variability fractions increase as the data set baseline is increased from 1 day to 33 days, in particular for the most variable stars. The lower mass M dwarf, K dwarf, and G dwarf stars increase their variability more significantly than the higher mass F dwarf and A dwarf stars as the time baseline is increased, indicating that the variability of the lower mass stars is mostly characterized by timescales of weeks while the variability of the higher mass stars is mostly characterized by timescales of days. A study of the distribution of the variability as a function of galactic latitude suggests that sources closer to the galactic plane are more variable. This may be the result of sampling differing populations (i.e., ages) as a function of latitude or may be the result of higher background contamination that is inflating the variability fractions at lower latitudes. A comparison of the M dwarf statistics to the variability of 29 known bright M dwarfs indicates that the M dwarfs are primarily variable on timescales of weeks or longer presumably dominated by spots and binarity. On shorter timescales of hours, which are relevant for planetary transit detection, the stars are significantly less variable, with 80% having 12 hr dispersions of 0.5 mmag or less.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2017 23:06
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2017 01:33
Uncontrolled Keywords: stars: statistics; stars: variables: general;
Fields of Research : 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/141/4/108

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