Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-20-2013

Publication Title

The Astrophysical Journal

Abstract

We propose a novel method for determining the ages of low-mass, pre-main-sequence stellar systems using the apsidal motion of low-mass detached eclipsing binaries. The apsidal motion of a binary system with an eccentric orbit provides information regarding the interior structure constants of the individual stars. These constants are related to the normalized stellar interior density distribution and can be extracted from the predictions of stellar evolution models. We demonstrate that low-mass, pre-main-sequence stars undergoing radiative core contraction display rapidly changing interior structure constants (greater than 5% per 10 Myr) that, when combined with observational determinations of the interior structure constants (with 5%-10% precision), allow for a robust age estimate. This age estimate, unlike those based on surface quantities, is largely insensitive to the surface layer where effects of magnetic activity are likely to be most pronounced. On the main sequence, where age sensitivity is minimal, the interior structure constants provide a valuable test of the physics used in stellar structure models of low-mass stars. There are currently no known systems where this technique is applicable. Nevertheless, the emphasis on time domain astronomy with current missions, such as Kepler, and future missions, such as LSST, has the potential to discover systems where the proposed method will be observationally feasible.

DOI

10.1088/0004-637X/765/2/86

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