Volume 471, Number 2, August IV 2007
|Page(s)||645 - 654|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||18 June 2007|
X-ray flares in Orion low-mass stars
Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche ed Astronomiche, Università di Palermo, Via Archirafi 36, 90123 Palermo, Italy firstname.lastname@example.org
2 INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy
3 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
4 Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Accepted: 14 June 2007
Context.X-ray flares are common phenomena in pre-main sequence stars. Their analysis gives insights into the physics at work in young stellar coronae. The Orion Nebula Cluster offers a unique opportunity to study large samples of young low mass stars. This work is part of the Chandra Orion Ultradeep project (COUP), an ~10 day long X-ray observation of the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC).
Aims.Our main goal is to statistically characterize the flare-like variability of 165 low mass (0.1–0.3 ) ONC members in order to test and constrain the physical scenario in which flares explain all the observed emission.
Methods.We adopt a maximum likelihood piece-wise representation of the observed X-ray light curves and detect flares by taking into account both the amplitude and time derivative of the count-rate. We then derive the frequency and energy distribution of the flares.
Results.The high energy tail of the energy distribution of flares is well described by a power-law with index ~2.2. We test the hypothesis that light curves are built entirely by overlapping flares with a single power law energy distribution. We constrain the parameters of this simple model for every single light curve. The analysis of synthetic light curves obtained from the model indicates a good agreement with the observed data. Comparing low mass stars with stars in the mass interval (0.9–1.2 ), we establish that, at ~1 Myr, low mass and solar mass stars of similar X-ray luminosity have very similar flare frequencies.
Conclusions.Our observational results are consistent with the following model/scenario: the light curves are entirely built by overlapping flares with a power-law intensity distribution; the intense flares are individually detected, while the weak ones merge and form a pseudo-quiescent level, which we indicate as the characteristic level.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: coronae / stars: flare / stars: pre-main sequence / stars: late-type / X-ray: stars
© ESO, 2007
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