Photometric Variability of the Be Star Population

Jonathan Labadie-Bartz, Joshua Pepper, M. Virginia McSwain, J. E. Bjorkman, K. S. Bjorkman, Michael B. Lund, Joseph E. Rodriguez, Keivan G. Stassun, Daniel J. Stevens, David J. James, Rudolf B. Kuhn, Robert J. Siverd, Thomas G. Beatty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Be stars have generally been characterized by the emission lines in their spectra, and especially the time variability of those spectroscopic features. They are known to also exhibit photometric variability at multiple timescales, but have not been broadly compared and analyzed by that behavior. We have taken advantage of the advent of wide-field, long-baseline, and high-cadence photometric surveys that search for transiting exoplanets to perform a comprehensive analysis of brightness variations among a large number of known Be stars. The photometric data comes from the KELT transit survey, with a typical cadence of 30 minutes, a baseline of up to 10 years, photometric precision of about 1%, and coverage of about 60% of the sky. We analyze KELT light curves of 610 known Be stars in both the northern and southern hemispheres in an effort to study their variability. Consistent with other studies of Be star variability, we find most of the stars to be photometrically variable. We derive lower limits on the fraction of stars in our sample that exhibit features consistent with non-radial pulsations (25%), outbursts (36%), and long-term trends in the circumstellar disk (37%), and show how these are correlated with spectral sub-types. Other types of variability, such as those owing to binarity, are also explored. Simultaneous spectroscopy for some of these systems from the Be Star Spectra database allow us to better understand the physical causes for the observed variability, especially in cases of outbursts and changes in the disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number252
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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