New Clues to the Evolution of Dwarf Carbon Stars from Their Variability and X-Ray Emission

Benjamin R. Roulston, Paul J. Green, Rodolfo Montez, Joseph Filippazzo, Jeremy J. Drake, Silvia Toonen, Scott F. Anderson, Michael Eracleous, Adam Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As main-sequence stars with C > O, dwarf carbon (dC) stars are never born alone but inherit carbon-enriched material from a former asymptotic giant branch (AGB) companion. In contrast to M dwarfs in post-mass-transfer binaries, C2 and/or CN molecular bands allow dCs to be identified with modest-resolution optical spectroscopy, even after the AGB remnant has cooled beyond detectability. Accretion of substantial material from the AGB stars should spin up the dCs, potentially causing a rejuvenation of activity detectable in X-rays. Indeed, a few dozen dCs have recently been found to have photometric variability with periods under a day. However, most of those are likely post-common-envelope binaries, spin-orbit locked by tidal forces, rather than solely spun-up by accretion. Here, we study the X-ray properties of a sample of the five nearest-known dCs with Chandra. Two are detected in X-rays, the only two for which we also detected short-period photometric variability. We suggest that the coronal activity detected so far in dCs is attributable to rapid rotation due to tidal locking in short binary orbits after a common-envelope phase, late in the thermally pulsing (TP) phase of the former C-AGB primary (TP-AGB).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number210
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'New Clues to the Evolution of Dwarf Carbon Stars from Their Variability and X-Ray Emission'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this