AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

Amplitude Variations in Pulsating Red Giants. II. Some Systematics

Volume 45 number 2 (2017)

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John R. Percy
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3H4, Canada; john.percy@utoronto.ca
Jennifer Laing
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3H4, Canada; jen.laing@mail.utoronto.ca

Abstract

In order to extend our previous studies of the unexplained phenomenon of cyclic amplitude variations in pulsating red giants, we have used the AAVSO time-series analysis package vstar to analyze long-term AAVSO visual observations of 50 such stars, mostly Mira stars. The relative amount of the variation, typically a factor of 1.5, and the time scale of the variation, typically 20–35 pulsation periods, are not significantly different in longer-period, shorter-period, and carbon stars in our sample, and they also occur in stars whose period is changing secularly, perhaps due to a thermal pulse. The time scale of the variations is similar to that in smaller-amplitude SR variables, but the relative amount of the variation appears to be larger in smaller-amplitude stars, and is therefore more conspicuous. The cause of the amplitude variations remains unclear, though they may be due to rotational modulation of a star whose pulsating surface is dominated by the effects of large convective cells.