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Magnitude range as amplitude

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clkotnik
clkotnik's picture
Magnitude range as amplitude

When the magnitude range in VSX is specified as an amplitude is this using the convention that amplitude is half the range of variability or the full range.  In this case is the magnitude value specified the max magnitude or the mean?

thanks

Cliff

Sebastian Otero
Sebastian Otero's picture
Ranges and mean magnitudes

Hi Cliff,

It is usually a mean magnitude. This means that depending on the star type, that value might be closer to the minimum or maximum magnitude (so it is actually not related to the range).
E.g.: an outbursting or flaring object (UG or UV) will be at minimum magnitude in quiescence so the mean magnitude will be very close or even equal to the minimum magnitude. I know that showing a minimum magnitude in the maximum magnitude field may be confusing but we can only list amplitudes in the minimum magnitude field.
In the case of detached eclipsing binaries (EA), it will be the opposite. They spend most of the time at maximum so the mean magnitude will be close to the maximum magnitude value while the amplitude will indicate the depth of the eclipses. Other eclipsing binaries like the EW subtype and pulsating variables will usually have a magnitude closer to the midrange because their variations are continuous. But it depends on the star's behaviour.
It is always better to give a range if available.
Quoted amplitudes are usually only approximate and might not give a real idea of the actual total amplitude of the star so do not take them at face value.

Cheers,
Sebastian
 

clkotnik
clkotnik's picture
Just a final clarification

Thanks,.  I see why specifying min and max makes the most sense.  Just a final point on amplitude.  When it is in VSX does it depend on the type of star?  Say for an EB, the amplitude specifies the full range while for a sinusoidal delta scuti the amplitude is half the range?  Or is amplitude always the full range in VSX.

thanks,

Cliff

Sebastian Otero
Sebastian Otero's picture
Full amplitude

Hi Cliff,
The amplitude is always (in theory) the full amplitude, peak to peak, no matter what the variability type is.
You have to keep in mind that -however- amplitudes are usually determined automatedly and represent a lower limit of the actual variations because those determinations may not take into account cycles brighter or fainter than average or may be based on sparse data. When a star is well-studied it will usually have a range published instead of an amplitude.

Cheers,
Sebastian

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