On the origin of the X-ray emission from Herbig Ae/Be stars
INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Exploration of the Universe Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
3 Hamburger Sternwarte, Gojenbergsweg 12, 21029 Hamburg, Germany
Accepted: 18 May 2006
Context.Herbig Ae/Be stars are fully radiative and not expected to support dynamo action analogous to their convective lower-mass counterparts, the T Tauri stars. Alternative X-ray production mechanisms, related to stellar winds or star-disk magnetospheres have been proposed, but their X-ray emission has remained a mystery.
Aims.A study of Herbig Ae/Be stars' global X-ray properties (such as detection rate, luminosity, temperature, variability), helps to constrain the emission mechanism by comparison to other types of stars, e.g. similar-age but lower-mass T Tauri stars, similar-mass but more evolved main-sequence A- and B-type stars, and with respect to model predictions.
Methods.We performed a systematic search for Chandra archival observations of Herbig Ae/Be stars. The superior spatial resolution of this satellite with respect to previous X-ray instrumentation has allowed us to also examine the possible role of late-type companions in generating the observed X-rays.
Results.In the total sample of 17 Herbig Ae/Be stars, 8 are resolved from X-ray emitting faint companions or other unrelated X-ray bright objects within . The detection fraction of Herbig Ae/Be stars is 76%, but decreases to 35% if all emission is attributed to further known and unresolved companions. The spectral analysis confirms the high X-ray temperatures ( MK) and large range of fractional X-ray luminosities () of this class derived from earlier studies of individual objects.
Conclusions.Radiative winds are ruled out as an emission mechanism on the basis of the high temperatures. The X-ray properties of Herbig Ae/Be stars are not vastly different from those of their late-type companion stars (if such are known), nor from other young late-type stars used for comparison. Therefore, either a similar kind of process takes place in both classes of objects, or there must be as yet undiscovered companion stars.
Key words: X-rays: stars / stars: early-type / stars: pre-main sequence / stars: activity / binaries: general
© ESO, 2006