X-rays from α Centauri – The darkening of the solar twin
Hamburger Sternwarte, Universität Hamburg, Gojenbergsweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 Astrophysics Division – Research and Science Support Department of ESA, ESTEC, Postbus 299, 2200 AG, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Accepted: 11 July 2005
We present first results from five XMM-Newton observations of the binary system α Centauri, which has been observed in snapshot like exposures of roughly two hours each during the last two years. In all our observations the X-ray emission of the system is dominated by α Cen B, a K1 star. The derived light curves of the individual components reveal variability on short timescales and a flare was discovered on α Cen B during one observation. A PSF fitting algorithm is applied to the event distribution to determine the brightness of each component during the observations. We perform a spectral analysis with multi-temperature models to calculate the X-ray luminosities. We investigate long term variability and possible activity cycles of both stars and find the optically brighter component α Cen A, a G2 star very similar to our Sun, to have fainted in X-rays by at least an order of magnitude during the observation program, a behaviour never observed before on α Cen A, but rather similar to the X-ray behaviour observed with XMM-Newton on HD 81809. We also compare our data with earlier spatially resolved observations performed over the last 25 years.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: coronae / stars: flare / stars: late-type / X-rays: stars
© ESO, 2005