Chandra observation of an unusually long and intense X-ray flare from a young solar-like star in M 78

N. Grosso, T. Montmerle, E. D. Feigelson, T. G. Forbes

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Abstract

LkHα 312 has been observed serendipitously with the ACIS-I detector on board the Chandra X-ray Observatory with a 26 h continuous exposure. This Hα emission line star belongs to M 78 (NGC 2068), one of the star-forming regions of the Orion B giant molecular cloud at a distance of 400 pc. From the optical and the near-infrared (NIR) data, we show that LkHα 312 is a pre-main sequence (PMS) low-mass star with a weak NIR excess. This genuine T Tauri star displayed an X-ray flare with an unusually long rise phase (∼8 h). The X-ray emission was nearly constant during the first 18 h of the observation, and then increased by a factor of 13 during a fast rise phase (∼2h), and reached a factor of 16 above the quiescent X-ray level at the end of a gradual phase (∼6h) showing a slower rise. To our knowledge this flare, with ∼0.4-0.5 cts s-1, has the highest count rate observed so far with Chandra from a PMS low-mass star. By chance, the source position, 8.2′ off-axis, protected this observation from pile-up. We make a spectral analysis of the X-ray emission versus time, showing that the plasma temperature of the quiescent phase and the flare peak reaches 29 MK and 88 MK, respectively. The quiescent and flare luminosities in the energy range 0.5-8 keV corrected from absorption (NH ≈ 1.7 × 1021 cm-2) are 6 × 1030 erg s-1 and ∼1032 erg s-1, respectively. The ratio of the quiescent X-ray luminosity on the LkHα 312 bolometric luminosity is very high with log(L/X/Lbol) = -2.9, implying that the corona of LkHα 312 reached the "saturation" level. The X-ray luminosity of the flare peak reaches ∼2% of the stellar bolometric luminosity. The different phases of this flare are finally discussed in the framework of solar flares, which leads to the magnetic loop height from 3.1 × 1010 to 1011 cm (0.2-0.5 R*, i.e., 0.5-1.3 R⊙).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-665
Number of pages13
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume419
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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