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2002AJ....124.2194R - Astron. J., 124, 2194-2206 (2002/October-0)

Evolution of the FU Orionis object BBW 76.


Abstract (from CDS):

We have carried out a long-term photometric and spectroscopic monitoring program of the southern FU Orionis-type object BBW 76 spanning the period from 1982 to 1997. BBW 76 has the same radial velocity as the small cloud toward which it is projected, and for which a kinematic distance of about 1.8 kpc has been derived. We have determined a large reddening of E(B-V)∼0.7 for BBW 76. Optical and infrared spectra show the change toward later spectral type with increasing wavelength characteristic of FU Orionis stars and indicative of a hot luminous disk. High-resolution echelle spectra of BBW 76 show P Cygni profiles with extended blueshifted absorption troughs at the Hα and sodium lines from a neutral, supersonic wind. Comparison of such spectra obtained at six different epochs between 1985 and 1997 reveals major changes in these Hα and sodium line profiles. For a period of 10 years from 1985, the massive absorption troughs diminished in extent and depth, until by 1994 they had all but disappeared, while at the same time the blueshifted emission peak in the Hα line increased markedly in strength. However, when observed in 1997, the absorption had increased again and the emission had diminished. We interpret this in terms of an extended period during which accretion through a circumstellar disk decreased, with a resulting decrease in wind production. But the increased activity by 1997 shows that this is not a constant decay and that the star was not about to revert to its presumably original T Tauri stage. We monitored the star with optical photometry from 1983 to 1994, during which period it decreased almost monotonically in brightness by 0.2 mag in V. Infrared J, H, and K photometry from 1983 to 1991 shows a period of monotonic fading between 1984 and 1988, followed by more irregular behavior. In a search of the Harvard plate archives we have found a plate from the year 1900 on which BBW 76 is seen at approximately its present brightness, certainly not 2 mag brighter as expected if the optical decline between 1983 and 1994 had persisted during the whole century. Also, a plate taken for the Franklin-Adams charts in 1927 again shows BBW 76 at approximately the same brightness. This historical light curve makes BBW 76 the FU Orionis star with the longest-documented period in a high state. Overall, the observations suggest that BBW 76 is virtually identical to the prototype of its class, FU Orionis itself, in all respects except that BBW 76 has not shown the regular fading that FU Orionis has displayed after its eruption in 1936. This may be due to continued replenishment of the circumstellar accretion disk.

Abstract Copyright:

Journal keyword(s): Stars: Circumstellar Matter - Stars: Fundamental Parameters - stars: individual (BBW 76) - Stars: Pre-Main-Sequence

Simbad objects: 23

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