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Astron. Astrophys. 346, 134-138 (1999)

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5. On the origin of variations

The periodicity of the mid-term variability, the large value of the period, 395 d, and the fact that the star is redder when brighter (see Sect. 4) suggests for HR 1960 a model similar to the one proposed by Carrier et al. (1999) for the Be star HR 2968, i.e.:

  • The Be star is the main component of a binary system having an orbit of period 395 d.

  • The companion star interacts gravitationally and/or radiatively with the disk around the Be star. This interaction induces the observed periodic modulation of the luminosity of the system (stars and disk).

Is HR 1960 member of a binary system? Three radial velocity measurements have been found in literature (Andersen & Nordström, 1983): 14.9 [FORMULA]1.3 km s-1 (Sep 25, 1974), 15.6 [FORMULA]2.8 km s-1 (Sep 29, 1974) and 12.9 [FORMULA]1.3 km s-1 (Nov 24, 1974). According to the authors, these values do not indicate a variability of the radial velocity. However, it can be noted that the third measurement has a value lower by 2.0 and 2.7 km s-1 than the first two measurements obtained respectively 60 and 56 d earlier. We can only postulate that these values are not in contradiction with an orbital motion of period 395 d, but, of course, a radial velocity survey must be organized in order to confirm the model proposed.

The observational constraints imposed to this model from the optical light variations are summarized in Fig. 4 which shows that:

  • The variations in U, B and V are not in phase one with each other. The luminosity maximum appears first in U, then in V ([FORMULA]0.1 in phase later), and finally in B ([FORMULA]0.05 later).

  • The amplitude is the largest in U and the smallest in B.

  • The shape of U and B light curves shows a plateau at light minimum, while the V light curve is very near a sine curve, the amplitude of the V first harmonic being very small (see Table 1).

[FIGURE] Fig. 4. The mean light curves of the U (dotted line), B (dashed line) and V (continuous line) magnitudes, according to Eq. 1, for the Geneva and Hipparcos measurements in the range 6 851-9 052 in HJD-2 440 000. The 2[FORMULA] limits for the V light curve are also represented.

In the case of HR 1960, the very small and constant semi-amplitude observed between February 1987 and March 1993, 3 millimags, indicates that the Be star was not very active during this period and/or that the disk was of low importance and stable in shape. Note here that the observed rotational velocity, [FORMULA] = 175-250 km s-1 (Andersen & Nordström, 1983), indicates that the vue angle of the Be star is far from the pole-on case (i = 0o). Indeed, by adopting for the equatorial rotational velocity v a value typical for the Be stars, i.e. [FORMULA] (Porter, 1996), where [FORMULA] is the critical rotational velocity ([FORMULA] km s-1), the vue angle is in the interval 30o - 60o.

The long-term variation described in Sect. 3 can be tentatively also attributed to the Be phenomenon. Such variations with characteristic times from months to decades, are a general property of Be stars (e.g. Moujtahid et al., 1998). In the case of HR 1960, the amplitude of this long-term variation is very small, [FORMULA]5 millimags in [FORMULA]10 y (see Fig. 1). This is an additional indication that this Be star is a relatively quiet one.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: May 6, 1999