Extreme infrared variables from UKIDSS-I : A concentration in star-forming regions
Contreras Peña, C.
We present initial results of the first panoramic search for high-amplitude near-infrared variability in theGalactic plane.We analyse the widely separated two-epoch K-band photometry in the fifth and seventh data releases of the UKIDSS Galactic plane survey.We find 45 stars with δK > 1 mag, including two previously known OH/IR stars and a Nova. Even though the midplane is not yet included in the data set, we find the majority (66 per cent) of our sample to be within known star-forming regions (SFRs), with two large concentrations in the Serpens OB2 association (11 stars) and the Cygnus-X complex (12 stars). Sources in SFRs show spectral energy distributions that support classification as young stellar objects (YSOs). This indicates that YSOs dominate the Galactic population of high-amplitude infrared variable stars at low luminosities and therefore likely dominate the total high-amplitude population. Spectroscopic follow up of the DR5 sample shows at least four stars with clear characteristics of eruptive premain- sequence variables, two of which are deeply embedded. Our results support the recent concept of eruptive variability comprising a continuum of outburst events with different timescales and luminosities, but triggered by a similar physical mechanism involving unsteady accretion. Also, we find what appears to be one of the most variable classical Be stars.