Following the Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project (COUP) observation, we have studied the chemical composition of the hot plasma in a sample of 146 X-ray-bright pre-main-sequence stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC). We report measurements of individual element abundances for a subsample of 86 slightly absorbed and bright X-ray sources, using low-resolution X-ray spectra obtained from the Chandra ACIS instrument. The X-ray emission originates from a plasma with temperatures and elemental abundances very similar to those of active coronae in older stars. A clear pattern of abundances versus first ionization potential (FIP) is evident if solar photospheric abundances are assumed as reference. The results are validated by extensive simulations. The observed abundance distributions are compatible with a single pattern of abundances for all stars, although a weak dependence on flare loop size may be present. The abundance of calcium is the only one which appears to vary substantially between stars, but this quantity is affected by relatively large uncertainties. The ensemble properties of the X-ray-bright COUP sources confirm that the iron in the emitting plasma is underabundant with respect to both the solar composition and the average stellar photospheric values. Comparison of the present plasma abundances with those of the stellar photospheres and those of the gaseous component of the nebula indicates a good agreement for all the other elements with available measurements, and in particular for the high-FIP elements (Ne, Ar, O, and S) and for the low-FIP element Si. We conclude that there is evidence of a significant chemical fractionation effect only for iron, which appears to be depleted by a factor 1.5-3 with respect to the stellar composition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science