Connecting X-ray and infrared variability among young stellar objects: Ruling out potential sources of disk fluctuations

K. M. Flaherty, J. Muzerolle, S. J. Wolk, G. Rieke, R. Gutermuth, Z. Balog, W. Herbst, S. T. Megeath, E. Furlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Variability in the infrared emission from disks around pre-main-sequence stars over the course of days to weeks appears to be common, but the physical cause of the changes in disk structure are not constrained. Here we present coordinated monitoring of one young cluster with the Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes aimed at studying the physical source of the variability. In fall 2011 we obtained 10 epochs of Chandra ACIS photometry over a period of 30 days with a roughly 3 day cadence contemporaneous with 20 epochs of Spitzer [3.6], [4.5] photometry over 40 days with a roughly 2 day cadence of the IC 348 cluster. This cadence allows us to search for week- to month-long responses of the infrared emission to changes in the high-energy flux. We find no strong evidence for a direct link between the X-ray and infrared variability on these timescales among 39 cluster members with circumstellar disks. There is no significant correlation between the shape of the infrared and X-ray light curves or between the sizes of the X-ray and infrared variability. Among the stars with an X-ray flare, none showed evidence of a correlated change in the infrared photometry on timescales of days to weeks following the flare. This lack of connection implies that X-ray heating of the planet-forming region of the disk is not significant, although we cannot rule out rapid or instantaneous changes in infrared emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2014


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • stars: pre-main sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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