Lights and shadows : multi-wavelength analysis of young stellar objects and their protoplanetary discs
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Stars form from the collapse of molecular clouds and evolve in an environment rich in gas and dust before becoming Main Sequence stars. During this phase, characterised by the presence of a protoplanetary disc, stars manifest changes in the structure and luminosity. This thesis performs a multi-wavelength analysis, from optical to mm range, on a sample of young stars (YSOs), mainly Classical T Tauri (CTTS). The purpose is to study optical and infrared variability and its relation with the protoplanetary disc. Longer wavelength, in the mm range, are used instead to investigate the evolution of the disc, in terms of dust growth. In optical, an F-test on a sample of 39 CTTS reveals that 67\% of the stars are variable. The variability, quantified through pooled sigma, is visible both in magnitude amplitudes and changes over time. Time series analysis applied on the more variable stars finds the presence of quasi periodicity, with periods longer than two weeks, interpreted either as eclipsing material in the disc happening on a non-regular basis, or as a consequence of star-disc interaction via magnetic field lines. The variability of YSOs is confirmed also in infrared, even if with lower amplitude. No strong correlations are found between optical and infrared variability, which implies a different cause or a time shift in the two events. By using a toy model to explore their origin, I find that infrared variations are likely to stem from emissions in the inner disc. The evolution of discs in terms of dust growth is confirmed in most discs by the analysis of the slope of the spectral energy distribution (SED), after correcting for wind emission and optical depth effects. However, the comparison with a radiative transfer model highlights that a number of disc parameters, in particular disc masses and temperature, dust size distribution and composition, can also affect the slope of the SED.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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