Astrophys. J., 696, 1931-1949 (2009/May-2)
The cycles of α Centauri.
Abstract (from CDS):
The main AB pair of the nearby α Centauri triple system has one of the most extensive X-ray records of any cosmic object, stretching over 30 years. The primary, α Cen A (G2 V), is a near twin of the Sun, with a similarly soft (1-2 MK) corona. The secondary, α Cen B (K1 V), is more active than the Sun, with a generally harder coronal spectrum. Here, more than a decade of spatially resolved measurements from ROSAT, XMM-Newton, and Chandra are compared on a common basis, with careful attention to conversion factors that translate count rates of the different instruments into absolute energy fluxes. For the latter purpose, two epochs of Chandra transmission grating spectra, which fully resolve the binary, were modeled using a differential emission measure formalism. The aggregate time series suggests that α Cen B was near X-ray maximum in the mid-1990s, minimum in the late-1990s, then peaked again in 2004-2005, and more recently has been declining toward another minimum. Meanwhile, α Cen A showed minimal variability 1995-2000, and like the secondary presently is mired in an activity lull (in fact, as seen by XMM-Newton, the primary "fainted" from view in the 2005 time frame). Comparisons between X-ray luminosities in the 0.2-2 keV (6-60 Å) ROSAT "WGACAT" band and a softer counterpart 0.06-1.2 keV (10-200 Å) reinforce the idea that cycle depth is strongly dependent on the energy span of the measurement, and that much of the coronal luminosity of cool-corona objects like the Sun falls at longer wavelengths than are recorded efficiently by contemporary instruments. Consequently, one must be careful in discussing X-ray cycles, their amplitudes, and coronal heating requirements unless one can demonstrate good control over the out-of-band component.
binaries: visual - stars: coronae - stars: individual (HD 22049, HD 61421, HD 128620, HD 128621) - X-rays: stars
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