Volume 463, Number 1, February III 2007
|Page(s)||11 - 21|
|Published online||02 November 2006|
Theoretical mass loss rates of cool main-sequence stars
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Max-Planck-Strasse 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9SS, Scotland e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 26 October 2006
Context.The stellar mass loss rate is important for the rotational evolution of a star and for its interaction with the circumstellar environment. The analysis of astrospheric absorption features enables an empirical determination of mass loss rates of cool stars other than the Sun.
Aims.We develop a model for the wind properties of cool main-sequence stars, which comprises their wind ram pressures, mass fluxes, and terminal wind velocities.
Methods.The wind properties are determined through a polytropic magnetised wind model, assuming power laws for the dependence of the thermal and magnetic wind parameters on the stellar rotation rate. We use the empirical data to constrain theoretical wind scenarios, which are characterised by different rates of increase of the wind temperature, wind density, and magnetic field strength.
Results.Scenarios based on moderate rates of increase yield wind ram pressures in agreement with most empirical constraints, but cannot account for some moderately rotating targets, whose high apparent mass loss rates are inconsistent with observed coronal X-ray and magnetic properties. For fast magnetic rotators, the magneto-centrifugal driving of the outflow can produce terminal wind velocities far in excess of the surface escape velocity. Disregarding this aspect in the analyses of wind ram pressures leads to overestimations of stellar mass loss rates. The predicted mass loss rates of cool main-sequence stars do not exceed about ten times the solar value.
Conclusions.Our results are in contrast with previous investigations, which found a strong increase of the stellar mass loss rates with the coronal X-ray flux. Owing to the weaker dependence, we expect the impact of stellar winds on planetary atmospheres to be less severe and the detectability of magnetospheric radio emission to be lower then previously suggested. Considering the rotational evolution of a star, the mass loss rates and the wind ram pressures are highest during the pre-main sequence phase.
Key words: stars: winds, outflows / stars: mass-loss / stars: magnetic fields / stars: late-type / stars: planetary systems
© ESO, 2007
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