We present a high-dispersion optical spectrum of St 34 and identify the system as a spectroscopic binary with components of similar luminosity and temperature (both M3 +/- 0.5). Based on kinematics, signatures of accretion, and location on an H-R diagram, we conclude that St 34 is a classical T Tauri star belonging to the Taurus-Auriga T association. Surprisingly, however, neither component of the binary shows Li I λ6708 absorption, the most universally accepted criterion for establishing stellar youth. In this uniquely known instance, the accretion disk appears to have survived longer than the lithium-depletion timescale. We speculate that the long-lived accretion disk is a consequence of the sub-AU separation companion tidally inhibiting, although not preventing, circumstellar accretion. Comparisons with pre-main-sequence evolutionary models imply, for each component of St 34, a mass of 0.37+/-0.08 Msolar and an isochronal age of 8+/-3 Myr, which is much younger than the predicted lithium-depletion timescale of ~25 Myr. Although a distance 38% closer than that of Taurus-Auriga or a hotter temperature scale could reconcile this discrepancy at 21-25 Myr, similar discrepancies in other systems and the implications of an extremely old accreting Taurus-Auriga member suggest instead a possible problem with evolutionary models. Regardless, the older age implied by St 34's depleted lithium is the first compelling evidence of a substantial age spread in this region. Additionally, since St 34's coeval comembers with early M spectral types would likewise fail the lithium test for youth, current membership lists may be incomplete.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- March 2005
- Stars: Binaries: Spectroscopic;
- Stars: Abundances;
- Stars: Pre-Main-Sequence;
- 4 pages, including 2 figures. Accepted for publication in ApJ Lett