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1 Astrophysics and Planetary Science, The Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet 2 University of Helsinki 3 Dark Cosmology Centre, The Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet 4 Tartu Observatory 5 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam 6 Dark Cosmology Centre, The Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet 7 Tartu Observatory
Context.FK Comae Berenices is a rapidly rotating magnetically active star, the light curve of which is modulated by cool spots on its surface. It was the first star where the "flip-flop" phenomenon was discovered. Since then, flip-flops in the spot activity have been reported in many other stars. Follow-up studies with increasing length have shown, however, that the phenomenon is more complex than was thought right after its discovery. Aims. Therefore, it is of interest to perform a more thorough study of the evolution of the spot activity in FK Com. In this study, we analyse 15 years of photometric observations with two different time series analysis methods, with a special emphasis on detecting flip-flop type events from the data. Methods. We apply the continuous period search and carrier fit methods on long-term standard Johnson-Cousins V-observations from the years 1995-2010. The observations were carried out with two automated photometric telescopes, Phoenix-10 and Amadeus T7 located in Arizona. Results. We identify complex phase behaviour in 6 of the 15 analysed data segments. We identify five flip-flop events and two cases of phase jumps, where the phase shift is ¿f <0.4. In addition we see two mergers of spot regions and two cases where the apparent phase shifts are caused by spot regions drifting with respect to each other. Furthermore we detect variations in the rotation period corresponding to a differential rotation coefficient of |k| > 0.031. Conclusions. The flip-flop cannot be interpreted as a single phenomenon, where the main activity jumps from one active longitude to another. In some of our cases the phase shifts can be explained by differential rotation: two spot regions move with different angular velocity and even pass each other. Comparison between the methods show that the carrier fit utility is better in retrieving slow evolution especially from a low amplitude light curve, while the continuous period search is more sensitive in case of rapid changes. © 2013 ESO.
Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2013, Vol 553
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