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α Centauri A in the far infrared: first measurement of the temperature minimum of a star other than the Sun

Liseau, R.; Montesinos, B.; Olofsson, G.; Bryden, G.; Marshall, J. P.; Ardila, D.; Bayo Aran, A.; Danchi, W. C.; del Burgo, C.; Eiroa, C.; Ertel, S.; Fridlund, M. C. W.; Krivov, A. V.; Pilbratt, G. L.; Roberge, A.; Thébault, P.; Wiegert, J. and White, G. J. (2013). α Centauri A in the far infrared: first measurement of the temperature minimum of a star other than the Sun. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 549, article no. L7.

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Context. Chromospheres and coronae are common phenomena on solar-type stars. Understanding the energy transfer to these heated atmospheric layers requires direct access to the relevant empirical data. Study of these structures has, by and large, been limited to the Sun thus far.

Aims. The region of the temperature reversal can be directly observed only in the far infrared and submillimetre spectral regime. We aim at determining the characteristics of the atmosphere in the region of the temperature minimum of the solar sister star α   Cen   A. As a bonus this will also provide a detailed mapping of the spectral energy distribution, i.e. knowledge that is crucial when searching for faint, Kuiper belt-like dust emission around other stars.

Methods. For the nearby binary system α   Cen, stellar parameters are known with high accuracy from measurements. For the basic model parameters Teff, logg and [Fe/H], we interpolate stellar model atmospheres in the grid of Gaia/PHOENIX and compute the corresponding model for the G2 V star α   Cen   A. Comparison with photometric measurements shows excellent agreement between observed photospheric data in the optical and infrared. For longer wavelengths, the modelled spectral energy distribution is compared to Spitzer-MIPS, Herschel-PACS, Herschel-SPIRE, and APEX-LABOCA photometry. A specifically tailored Uppsala model based on the MARCS code and extending further in wavelength is used to gauge the emission characteristics of α   Cen   A in the far infared.

Results. Similar to the Sun, the far infrared (FIR) emission of α   Cen   A originates in the minimum temperature region above the stellar photosphere in the visible. However, in comparison with the solar case, the FIR photosphere of α   Cen   A appears marginally cooler, Tmin ~ T160   μm = 3920 ± 375 K. Beyond the minimum near 160 μm, the brightness temperatures increase, and this radiation very likely originates in warmer regions of the chromosphere of α   Cen   A.

Conclusions. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a temperature minimum has been directly measured on a main-sequence star other than the Sun.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 ESO
ISSN: 1432-0746
Extra Information: 5 pp.
Keywords: αCen; atmospheres; chromospheres; circumstellar matter; stars
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 36326
Depositing User: G. J. White
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2013 10:52
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 21:04
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