skip to main content

Title: An X-ray activity cycle on the young solar-like star ɛ Eridani
Chromospheric Ca II activity cycles are frequently found in late-type stars, but no systematic programs have been created to search for their coronal X-ray counterparts. The typical time scale of Ca II activity cycles ranges from years to decades. Therefore, long-lasting missions are needed to detect the coronal counterparts. The XMM-Newton satellite has so far detected X-ray cycles in five stars. A particularly intriguing question is at what age (and at what activity level) X-ray cycles set in. To this end, in 2015 we started the X-ray monitoring of the young solar-like star ɛ Eridani, previously observed on two occasions: in 2003 and in early 2015, both by XMM-Newton . With an age of 440 Myr, it is one of the youngest solar-like stars with a known chromospheric Ca II cycle. We collected the most recent Mount Wilson S-index data available for ɛ Eridani, starting from 2002, including previously unpublished data. We found that the Ca II cycle lasts 2.92 ± 0.02 yr, in agreement with past results. From the long-term XMM-Newton lightcurve, we find clear and systematic X-ray variability of our target, consistent with the chromospheric Ca II cycle. The average X-ray luminosity is 2 × 10 28 erg s −1 , with an amplitude that is only a factor of 2 throughout the cycle. We apply a new method to describe the evolution of the coronal emission measure distribution of ɛ Eridani in terms of solar magnetic structures: active regions, cores of active regions, and flares covering the stellar surface at varying filling fractions. Combinations of these three types of magnetic structures can only describe the observed X-ray emission measure of ɛ Eridani if the solar flare emission measure distribution is restricted to events in the decay phase. The interpretation is that flares in the corona of ɛ Eridani last longer than their solar counterparts. We ascribe this to the lower metallicity of ɛ Eridani. Our analysis also revealed that the X-ray cycle of ɛ Eridani is strongly dominated by cores of active regions. The coverage fraction of cores throughout the cycle changes by the same factor as the X-ray luminosity. The maxima of the cycle are characterized by a high percentage of covering fraction of the flares, consistent with the fact that flaring events are seen in the corresponding short-term X-ray lightcurves predominately at the cycle maxima. The high X-ray emission throughout the cycle of ɛ Eridani is thus explained by the high percentage of magnetic structures on its surface.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Magnetic reconnection is regarded as the mechanism for the rapid release of magnetic energy stored in active regions during solar flares, and quantitative measurements of the magnetic reconnection rate are essential for understanding solar flares. In the context of the standard two-ribbon flare model, we derive the coronal magnetic reconnection rate of the M6.5 flare on 2015 June 22 in two terms, reconnection flux change rate and reconnection electric field, both of which can be obtained from observations of the flare morphology. Data used include a sequence of chromospheric Hαimages with unprecedented resolution during the flare from the Visual Imaging Spectrometer of the Goode Solar Telescope (GST) at the Big Bear Solar Observatory and a preflare line-of-sight photospheric magnetogram from the GST Near-InfraRed Imaging Spectropolarimeter along with hard X-ray data from the Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager. The temporal correlation between the magnetic reconnection rate and nonthermal emission is found, and the variation of the reconnection electric field is mainly determined by the ribbon speed, not by the local magnetic field encountered by the ribbon front. Spatially, the hard X-ray source overlaps with the location of the strongest electric field obtained at the same time. The ribbon motion shows abundant fine structures, including a local acceleration at the location of a light bridge with a weaker magnetic field.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    X-ray observations of low-mass stars in open clusters are critical to understanding the dependence of magnetic activity on stellar properties and their evolution. Praesepe and the Hyades, two of the nearest, most-studied open clusters, are among the best available laboratories for examining the dependence of magnetic activity on rotation for stars with masses ≲1M. We present an updated study of the rotation–X-ray activity relation in the two clusters. We updated membership catalogs that combine pre-Gaia catalogs with new catalogs based on Gaia Data Release 2. The resulting catalogs are the most inclusive ones for both clusters: 1739 Praesepe and 1315 Hyades stars. We collected X-ray detections for cluster members, for which we analyzed, re-analyzed, or collated data from ROSAT, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, and XMM-Newton. We have detections for 326 Praesepe and 462 Hyades members, of which 273 and 164, respectively, have rotation periods—an increase of 6× relative to what was previously available. We find that at ≈700 Myr, only M dwarfs remain saturated in X-rays, with only tentative evidence for supersaturation. We also find a tight relation between the Rossby number and fractional X-ray luminosityLX/Lbolin unsaturated single members, suggesting a power-law index between −3.2 and −3.9. Lastly, we find no difference in the coronal parameters between binary and single members. These results provide essential insight into the relative efficiency of magnetic heating of the stars’ atmospheres, thereby informing the development of robust age-rotation-activity relations.

    more » « less
  3. The corona is an integral component of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) which produces the bulk of the X-ray emission above 1-2 keV. However, many of its physical properties and the mechanisms powering this emission remain a mystery. In particular, the temperature of the coronal plasma has been difficult to constrain for large samples of AGNs, as constraints require high-quality broadband X-ray spectral coverage extending above 10 keV in order to measure the high-energy cutoff, which provides constraints on the combination of coronal optical depth and temperature. We present constraints on the coronal temperature for a large sample of Seyfert 1 AGNs selected from the Swift/BAT survey using high-quality hard X-ray data from the NuSTAR observatory combined with simultaneous soft X-ray data from Swift/XRT or XMM-Newton. When applying a physically motivated, nonrelativistic disk-reflection model to the X-ray spectra, we find a mean coronal temperature kT e = 84 ± 9 keV. We find no significant correlation between the coronal cutoff energy and accretion parameters such as the Eddington ratio and black hole mass. We also do not find a statistically significant correlation between the X-ray photon index, Γ, and Eddington ratio. This calls into question the use of such relations to infer properties of supermassive black hole systems. 
    more » « less

    Magnetic fields are extremely rare in close, hot binaries, with only 1.5 per cent of such systems known to contain a magnetic star. The eccentric ϵ Lupi system stands out in this population as the only close binary in which both stars are known to be magnetic. We report the discovery of strong variable radio emission from ϵ Lupi using the upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (uGMRT) and the MeerKAT radio telescope. The light curve exhibits striking unique characteristics including sharp high-amplitude pulses that repeat with the orbital period, with the brightest enhancement occurring near periastron. The characteristics of the light curve point to variable levels of magnetic reconnection throughout the orbital cycle, making ϵ Lupi the first known high-mass, main sequence binary embedded in an interacting magnetosphere. We also present a previously unreported enhancement in the X-ray light curve obtained from archival XMM–Newton data. The stability of the components’ fossil magnetic fields, the firm characterization of their relatively simple configurations, and the short orbital period of the system make ϵ Lupi an ideal target to study the physics of magnetospheric interactions. This system may thus help us to illuminate the exotic plasma physics of other magnetically interacting systems such as moon–planet, planet–star, and star–star systems including T Tauri binaries, RS CVn systems, and neutron star binaries.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Sunspot light bridges (LBs) exhibit a wide range of short-lived phenomena in the chromosphere and transition region. In contrast, we use here data from the Multi-Application Solar Telescope (MAST), the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), Hinode, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) to analyze the sustained heating over days in an LB in a regular sunspot. Chromospheric temperatures were retrieved from the MAST Caiiand IRIS Mgiilines by nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium inversions. Line widths, Doppler shifts, and intensities were derived from the IRIS lines using Gaussian fits. Coronal temperatures were estimated through the differential emission measure, while the coronal magnetic field was obtained from an extrapolation of the HMI vector field. At the photosphere, the LB exhibits a granular morphology with field strengths of about 400 G and no significant electric currents. The sunspot does not fragment, and the LB remains stable for several days. The chromospheric temperature, IRIS line intensities and widths, and AIA 171 and 211 Å intensities are all enhanced in the LB with temperatures from 8000 K to 2.5 MK. Photospheric plasma motions remain small, while the chromosphere and transition region indicate predominantly redshifts of 5–20 km s−1with occasional supersonic downflows exceeding 100 km s−1. The excess thermal energy over the LB is about 3.2 × 1026erg and matches the radiative losses. It could be supplied by magnetic flux loss of the sunspot (7.5 × 1027erg), kinetic energy from the increase in the LB width (4 × 1028erg), or freefall of mass along the coronal loops (6.3 × 1026erg).

    more » « less