The X-Ray Sun in Time: A Study of the Long-Term Evolution of Coronae of Solar-Type Stars.

We have used the ASCA and ROSAT X-ray satellites to probe the coronae of a sample of nine solar-like G stars. These stars are all ostensibly single with ages ranging from 70 Myr to 9 Gyr and have X-ray luminosities ranging from 1 to 500 times that of the quiet Sun. Specifically, we investigate the dependence of the coronal temperature and emission measure structure of these stars on age and rotation period. In the younger stars, a considerable portion of the volume emission measure resides at very high temperatures, reaching up to ~20--30 MK in EK Dra. Such temperatures are comparable to temperatures that are achieved on the Sun during short flaring episodes. In two-temperature fits to ROSAT data, the higher temperature decays rapidly within the first few 100 Myr; the decay may be described by an inverse power law, Thot ~ age-0.3. We also find a power-law dependence between the total X-ray luminosity and the higher temperature L_{{X}}~T4_{{hot}} . We interpret this as evidence of a decrease in the efficiency of high-temperature coronal heating as a solar-like star ages and its rotation slows down. A reconstruction of the coronal differential emission measure (DEM) distribution in three of the stars using ASCA data indicates a bimodal distribution in temperature, with the hotter plasma at 12--30 MK and the cooler plasma below 10 MK. We infer, for the first time, a consistent evolution of the DEM structure in a solar-type star. The emission measure of the hotter component rapidly decreases with age and becomes unimportant at ages beyond ~500 Myr. The emitted X-ray emission of the young Sun thus rapidly softened, which had important implications for the young planetary atmospheres. We suggest that the high-temperature component is the result of superimposed but temporally unresolved flaring events and support this picture by reconstructing the time-integrated (average) emission measure distribution of a typical solar X-ray flare. Radio observations of active stars fit well into this picture and suggest that the presence of nonthermal electrons in coronae is linked to the presence of hot (>10 MK) plasma, very much the same situation as in solar flares. We find, however, that radio emission saturates, if at all, at smaller rotation periods than does X-ray emission.

Main Author: Gudel, Manuel.
Other Authors: Guinan, Edward F., Skinner, Stephen L.
Language: English
Published: 1997
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