EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 383, Number 3, March I 2002
Page(s) 952 - 971
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20011792

A&A 383, 952-971 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20011792

Modeling non-confined coronal flares: Dynamics and X-ray diagnostics

F. Reale1, F. Bocchino2 and G. Peres1

1  Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche & Astronomiche, Sezione di Astronomia, Università di Palermo, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy
    e-mail: peres@astropa.unipa.it
2  Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo G.S. Vaiana, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy
    e-mail: bocchino@stropa.unipa.it

(Received 24 July 2001 / Accepted 11 December 2001 )

Long-lasting, intense, stellar X-ray flares may approach conditions of breaking magnetic confinement and evolving in open space. In the perspective of searching for possible tracers of non-confinement, we explore this hypothesis with hydrodynamic simulations of flares occurring in a non-confined corona: model flares are triggered by a transient impulsive heating injected in a plane-parallel stratified corona. The plasma evolution is described by means of a numerical 2-D model in cylindrical geometry R,Z. We explore the space of fundamental parameters. As a reference model, we consider a flare triggered by a heating pulse of 10 erg cm -3 s -1 lasting 150 s and released in a region ~ 109 cm wide and at a height ~ $ 2 \times 10^9$ cm from the base of the stellar surface. The pressure at the base of the corona of the unperturbed atmosphere is 0.1 dyne cm -2. The heating would cause a 20 MK flare if delivered in a 40 000 km long closed loop. The modeled plasma evolution in the heating phase involves the propagation of a 10 MK conduction front and the evaporation of a shocked bow density front upwards from the chromosphere. As the heating is switched off, the temperature drops in few seconds while the density front still propagates, expanding, and gradually weakening. This kind of evolution is shared by other simulations with different coronal initial pressure, and location, duration and intensity of the heating. The X-ray emission, spectra and light curves at the ASCA/SIS focal plan, and in two intense X-ray lines (Mg XI at 9.169 Å and Fe XXI at 128.752 Å), have been synthesized from the models. The results are discussed and compared to features of confined events, and scaling laws are derived. The light curves invariably show a very rapid rise, a constant phase as long as the constant heating is on, and then a very fast decay, on time scales of few seconds, followed by a more gradual one (few minutes). We show that this evolution of the emission, and especially the fast decay, together with other potentially observable effects, are intrinsic to the assumption of non-confinement. Their lack indicates that observed long-lasting stellar X-ray flares should involve plasma strongly confined by magnetic fields.

Key words: stars: flare -- stars: coronae -- X-rays: stars -- hydrodynamics

Offprint request: F. Reale, reale@astropa.unipa.it

© ESO 2002