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Astron. Astrophys. 320, 125-135 (1997)

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Variable central stars of young planetary nebulae

I. Photometric multisite observations of IC 418

G. Handler 1, 2, R.H. Méndez 3, R. Medupe 4, R. Costero 5, P.V. Birch 6, M. Alvarez 5, D.J. Sullivan 7, D.W. Kurtz 4, A. Herrero 8, M.A. Guerrero 8, R. Ciardullo 9 and M. Breger 1

1 Institut für Astronomie, Universität Wien, Türkenschanzstraße 17, A-1180 Wien, Austria
3 Universitäts-Sternwarte, Scheinerstraße 1, D-81679 München, Germany
4 Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
5 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, Apartado Postal 877, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
6 Perth Observatory, Walnut Rd., Bickley, Western Australia 6076, Australia
7 Department of Physics, Victoria University of Wellington, P. O. Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
8 Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, E-38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
9 Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Received 21 February 1996 / Accepted 10 May 1996


We report the results of a photometric multisite campaign devoted to HD 35914, the variable central star of the Planetary Nebula IC 418. From the analysis of 120 hours of data acquired with a variety of techniques, we find that HD 35914 exhibits two distinct kinds of variability: irregular light modulation with a time scale of days, as well as cyclic variations with a time scale of 6.5 hours. The short-term variations are not strictly periodic, and cannot be reasonably explained by multiperiodicity; they appear to be semiregular. The star is generally redder when it is brighter; this behavior appears to be connected with the long-term variability.

A re-analysis of most of the older data obtained for HD 35914 by various researchers suggests that the basic behavior of the star did not change during the last 15 years.

We carefully discuss all the possible causes for the light variations of the star. Rotational modulation of surface features cannot explain the observations, and binarity is unlikely. Pulsations may be excited, but wind variability (or a combination of both) can also not be ruled out.

Key words: stars: variables: other – stars: individual: HD 35914 – planetary nebulae: individual: IC 418 – stars: oscillations – stars: mass loss – techniques: photometric

Send offprint requests to: G. Handler

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: July 3, 1998