We investigate starspot distributions consistent with space-based photometry of F, G, and K stars in six stellar associations ranging in age from 10 Myr to 4 Gyr. We show that a simple light-curve statistic called the "smoothed amplitude" is proportional to stellar age as t-1/2, following a Skumanich-like spin-down relation. We marginalize over the unknown stellar inclinations by forward modeling the ensemble of light curves for direct comparison with the Kepler, K2, and TESS photometry. We sample the posterior distributions for spot coverage with approximate Bayesian computation. We find typical spot coverages in the range 1%-10%, which decrease with increasing stellar age. The spot coverage is proportional to tn where n = -0.37 ± 0.16, also statistically consistent with a Skumanich-like t-1/2 decay of starspot coverage with age. We apply two techniques to estimate the spot coverage of young exoplanet-hosting stars likely to be targeted for transmission spectroscopy with the James Webb Space Telescope, and estimate the bias in exoplanet radius measurements due to varying starspot coverage.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- April 2020
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 21 pages, 11 figures, accepted in ApJ, software in review at JOSS https://github.com/openjournals/joss-reviews/issues/2103