Journal Article

Bayesian inference of T Tauri star properties using multi-wavelength survey photometry

Geert Barentsen, J. S. Vink, J. E. Drew and S. E. Sale

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 429, issue 3, pages 1981-2000
Published in print March 2013 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2013 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Bayesian inference of T Tauri star properties using multi-wavelength survey photometry

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There are many pertinent open issues in the area of star and planet formation. Large statistical samples of young stars across star-forming regions are needed to trigger a breakthrough in our understanding, but most optical studies are based on a wide variety of spectrographs and analysis methods, which introduces large biases.

Here we show how graphical Bayesian networks can be employed to construct a hierarchical probabilistic model which allows pre-main-sequence ages, masses, accretion rates and extinctions to be estimated using two widely available photometric survey data bases (Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric Hα Survey r/Hα/i and Two Micron All Sky Survey J-band magnitudes). Because our approach does not rely on spectroscopy, it can easily be applied to ho‐mogeneously study the large number of clusters for which Gaia will yield membership lists.

We explain how the analysis is carried out using the Markov chain Monte Carlo method and provide python source code. We then demonstrate its use on 587 known low-mass members of the star-forming region NGC 2264 (Cone Nebula), arriving at a median age of 3.0 Myr, an accretion fraction of 20 ± 2 per cent and a median accretion rate of 10−8.4 M yr−1.

The Bayesian analysis formulated in this work delivers results which are in agreement with spectroscopic studies already in the literature, but achieves this with great efficiency by depending only on photometry. It is a significant step forward from previous photometric studies because the probabilistic approach ensures that nuisance parameters, such as extinction and distance, are fully included in the analysis with a clear picture on any degeneracies.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; methods: data analysis; surveys; stars: pre-main-sequence; open clusters and associations: individual: NGC 2264

Journal Article.  12965 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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