Indications for an influence of hot Jupiters on the rotation and activity of their host stars
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge 02138, MA, USA
Received: 17 January 2014
Accepted: 27 March 2014
Context. The magnetic activity of planet-hosting stars is an important factor for estimating the atmospheric stability of close-in exoplanets and the age of their host stars. It has long been speculated that close-in exoplanets can influence the stellar activity level. However, testing for tidal or magnetic interaction effects in samples of planet-hosting stars is difficult because stellar activity hinders exoplanet detection, so that stellar samples with detected exoplanets show a bias toward low activity for small exoplanets.
Aims. We aim to test whether exoplanets in close orbits influence the stellar rotation and magnetic activity of their host stars.
Methods. We developed a novel approach to test for systematic activity-enhancements in planet-hosting stars. We use wide (several 100 AU) binary systems in which one of the stellar components is known to have an exoplanet, while the second stellar component does not have a detected planet and therefore acts as a negative control. We use the stellar coronal X-ray emission as an observational proxy for magnetic activity and analyze observations performed with Chandra and XMM-Newton.
Results. We find that in two systems for which strong tidal interaction can be expected the planet-hosting primary displays a much higher magnetic activity level than the planet-free secondary. In three systems for which weaker tidal interaction can be expected the activity levels of the two stellar components agree with each other.
Conclusions. Our observations indicate that the presence of Hot Jupiters may inhibit the spin-down of host stars with thick outer convective layers. Possible causes for this effect include a transfer of angular momentum from the planetary orbit to the stellar rotation through tidal interaction, or differences during the early evolution of the system, where the host star may decouple from the protoplanetary disk early because of a gap opened by the forming Hot Jupiter.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: coronae / planet-star interactions / X-rays: stars / binaries: general
© ESO, 2014