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Analyzing Variability of Star Cluster Ensemble Light Curves

Presentation #201.01 in the session Star Clusters and Associations — iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Analyzing Variability of Star Cluster Ensemble Light Curves

Stellar clusters are an important tool in astronomy as we can use their ages and abundances to trace galaxy evolution. Outside the Local Group, where individual stars cannot be resolved, star cluster properties must be derived through fitting integrated light spectra or spectral energy distributions. However, until now nobody has analyzed in depth the ensemble light curves of star clusters. Here, we explore the information encoded in this additional dimension of cluster data. We present a pipeline to analyze variability of ensemble star cluster light curves from TESS. We investigate methods to subtract background light and artifacts from the ensemble light of a set of stars within a given single aperture using principal component analysis. We also test a variety of variability metrics from different astronomical fields in the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds to characterize variability and look for correlations with cluster age and abundance. We compute these metrics not only for galactic clusters of known properties, but also for field populations throughout the Milky Way to understand how these metrics can be applied to more distant, unresolved systems.

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