Basal chromospheric flux and Maunder Minimum-type stars: the quiet-Sun chromosphere as a universal phenomenon
1 Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Guanajuato, Apartado Postal 144, 36000 Guanajuato, Mexico
2 Hamburger Sternwarte, Universität Hamburg, Gojenbergsweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany
3 Department of Physics, Science Hall, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019-0059, USA
Received: 29 October 2011
Accepted: 12 February 2012
Aims. We demonstrate the universal character of the quiet-Sun chromosphere among inactive stars (solar-type and giants). By assessing the main physical processes, we shed new light on some common observational phenomena.
Methods. We discuss measurements of the solar Mt. Wilson S-index, obtained by the Hamburg Robotic Telescope around the extreme minimum year 2009, and compare the established chromospheric basal Ca II K line flux to the Mt. Wilson S-index data of inactive (“flat activity”) stars, including giants.
Results. During the unusually deep and extended activity minimum of 2009, the Sun reached S-index values considerably lower than in any of its previously observed minima. In several brief periods, the Sun coincided exactly with the S-indices of inactive (“flat”, presumed Maunder Minimum-type) solar analogues of the Mt. Wilson sample; at the same time, the solar visible surface was also free of any plages or remaining weak activity regions. The corresponding minimum Ca II K flux of the quiet Sun and of the presumed Maunder Minimum-type stars in the Mt. Wilson sample are found to be identical to the corresponding Ca II K chromospheric basal flux limit.
Conclusions. We conclude that the quiet-Sun chromosphere is a universal phenomenon among inactive stars. Its mixed-polarity magnetic field, generated by a local, “fast” turbulent dynamo finally provides a natural explanation for the minimal soft X-ray emission observed for inactive stars. Given such a local dynamo also works for giant chromospheres, albeit on longer length scales, i.e., l ∝ R/g, with R and g as stellar radius and surface gravity, respectively, the existence of giant spicular phenomena and the guidance of mechanical energy toward the acceleration zone of cool stellar winds along flux-tubes have now become traceable.
Key words: Sun: chromosphere / Sun: faculae, plages / Sun: dynamo / Sun: corona / stars: chromospheres / stars: activity
© ESO, 2012