X-ray emission from early-type stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster

B. Stelzer, E. Flaccomio, T. Montmerle, G. Micela, S. Sciortino, F. Favata, T. Preibisch, E. D. Feigelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The X-ray properties of twenty ∼1 Myr old O, B, and A stars of the Orion Trapezium are examined with data from the Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project (COUP). On the basis of simple theories for X-ray emission, we define two classes separated at spectral type B4: hotter stars have strong winds that may give rise to X-ray emission in small- or large-scale wind shocks, and cooler stars that should be X-ray dark due to their weaker winds and absence of outer convection zones where dynamos can generate magnetic fields. Emission by late-type magnetically active companions may be present in either class. Sixteen of the 20 stars are detected with a wide range of X-ray luminosities, log L X (ergs s -1) ∼ 29-33, and X-ray efficiencies, log (L X/L bol) ∼ -4 to -8. Only two stars, θ 1 Ori D (B0.5) and NU Ori (B1), show exclusively the constant soft-spectrum emission at log(L X/L bol) ∼ -7 expected from the standard model involving many small shocks in an unmagnetized radiatively accelerated wind. Most of the other massive O7-B3 stars exhibit some combination of soft-spectrum wind emission, hard-spectrum flaring, and/or rotational modulation indicating large-scale inhomogeneity. Magnetic confinement of winds with large-scale shocks can be invoked to explain these phenomena. This is supported in some cases by nonthermal radio emission and/or chemical peculiarities, or direct detection of the magnetic field (θ 1 Ori C). Most of the stars in the weak-wind class exhibit X-ray flares and log L X < 31 ergs s -1, consistent with magnetic activity from known or unseen low-mass companions. In most cases, the X-ray spectra can be interpreted in terms of a two-temperature plasma model with a soft component of 3-10 MK and a hard component up to 40 MK. All nondetections belong to the weak-wind class. A group of stars exhibit hybrid properties - flarelike behavior superimposed on a constant component with log L X ∼ 32 ergs s -1 - which suggest both magnetic activity and wind emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-581
Number of pages25
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'X-ray emission from early-type stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this