Variable central stars of young Planetary Nebulae*
A photometric study of the central star of M 2–54
Institut für Astronomie, Universität Wien, Türkenschanzstraße 17, A-1180 Wien, Austria
Accepted: 19 November 1998
We acquired 63.8 hours of time-series photometry of the variable central star of the young Planetary Nebula M 2-54. This object exhibits light variations with a peak-to-peak amplitude of up to 0.3 mag in Johnson V. Two different time scales (several days and several hours) are present. While the long-term variations appear to be nonperiodic, the short-term modulations are (quasi)periodic with a time scale of either 8.9 or 14.3 hours. An analysis of the HIPPARCOS photometry of this object did not allow us to infer which of these two time scales is the correct one. The possible causes for the observed variability are examined. The slow variations can be explained by either a spot hypothesis or variations in the stellar mass loss, while the short-term modulations are most consistent with stellar pulsation. All this behaviour is strikingly similar to that of best studied representative of this class of variable star, the central star of IC 418, strongly suggesting that the physical cause of the variability of these two objects is the same. While it appears quite attractive to suspect that we are in the presence of a new class of pulsating variables, further work is needed to confirm or reject this. Consequently, some suggestions in this direction are given.
Key words: stars: variables / planetary nebulae: individual: M 2-54 / stars: oscillations / stars: mass loss
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