skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: ACCRETION AND MAGNETIC RECONNECTION IN THE CLASSICAL T TAURI BINARY DQ TAU

Abstract

The theory of binary star formation predicts that close binaries ( a < 100 au) will experience periodic pulsed accretion events as streams of material form at the inner edge of a circumbinary disk (CBD), cross a dynamically cleared gap, and feed circumstellar disks or accrete directly onto the stars. The archetype for the pulsed accretion theory is the eccentric, short-period, classical T Tauri binary DQ Tau. Low-cadence (∼daily) broadband photometry has shown brightening events near most periastron passages, just as numerical simulations would predict for an eccentric binary. Magnetic reconnection events (flares) during the collision of stellar magnetospheres near periastron could, however, produce the same periodic, broadband behavior when observed at a one-day cadence. To reveal the dominant physical mechanism seen in DQ Tau’s low-cadence observations, we have obtained continuous, moderate-cadence, multiband photometry over 10 orbital periods, supplemented with 27 nights of minute-cadence photometry centered on four separate periastron passages. While both accretion and stellar flares are present, the dominant timescale and morphology of brightening events are characteristic of accretion. On average, the mass accretion rate increases by a factor of five near periastron, in good agreement with recent models. Large variability is observed in the morphology and amplitudemore » of accretion events from orbit to orbit. We argue that this is due to the absence of stable circumstellar disks around each star, compounded by inhomogeneities at the inner edge of the CBD and within the accretion streams themselves. Quasiperiodic apastron accretion events are also observed, which are not predicted by binary accretion theory.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2]; ;  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6]
  1. Department of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 475 North Charter Street, Madison, WI 53706 (United States)
  2. The Aerospace Corporation, M2-266, El Segundo, CA 90245 (United States)
  3. NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, IPAC/Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91125 (United States)
  4. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005 (United States)
  5. The Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University, Beijing 100871 (China)
  6. University of Nariño Observatory, Pasto, Nariño (Colombia)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22663245
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 835; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; BINARY STARS; COLLISIONS; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; MASS; ORBITS; PERIODICITY; PHOTOMETRY; PULSES; STELLAR FLARES; STELLAR MAGNETOSPHERES; STREAMS

Citation Formats

Tofflemire, Benjamin M., Mathieu, Robert D., Ardila, David R., Akeson, Rachel L., Ciardi, David R., Johns-Krull, Christopher, Herczeg, Gregory J., and Quijano-Vodniza, Alberto. ACCRETION AND MAGNETIC RECONNECTION IN THE CLASSICAL T TAURI BINARY DQ TAU. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/835/1/8.
Tofflemire, Benjamin M., Mathieu, Robert D., Ardila, David R., Akeson, Rachel L., Ciardi, David R., Johns-Krull, Christopher, Herczeg, Gregory J., & Quijano-Vodniza, Alberto. ACCRETION AND MAGNETIC RECONNECTION IN THE CLASSICAL T TAURI BINARY DQ TAU. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/835/1/8.
Tofflemire, Benjamin M., Mathieu, Robert D., Ardila, David R., Akeson, Rachel L., Ciardi, David R., Johns-Krull, Christopher, Herczeg, Gregory J., and Quijano-Vodniza, Alberto. Fri . "ACCRETION AND MAGNETIC RECONNECTION IN THE CLASSICAL T TAURI BINARY DQ TAU". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/835/1/8.
@article{osti_22663245,
title = {ACCRETION AND MAGNETIC RECONNECTION IN THE CLASSICAL T TAURI BINARY DQ TAU},
author = {Tofflemire, Benjamin M. and Mathieu, Robert D. and Ardila, David R. and Akeson, Rachel L. and Ciardi, David R. and Johns-Krull, Christopher and Herczeg, Gregory J. and Quijano-Vodniza, Alberto},
abstractNote = {The theory of binary star formation predicts that close binaries ( a < 100 au) will experience periodic pulsed accretion events as streams of material form at the inner edge of a circumbinary disk (CBD), cross a dynamically cleared gap, and feed circumstellar disks or accrete directly onto the stars. The archetype for the pulsed accretion theory is the eccentric, short-period, classical T Tauri binary DQ Tau. Low-cadence (∼daily) broadband photometry has shown brightening events near most periastron passages, just as numerical simulations would predict for an eccentric binary. Magnetic reconnection events (flares) during the collision of stellar magnetospheres near periastron could, however, produce the same periodic, broadband behavior when observed at a one-day cadence. To reveal the dominant physical mechanism seen in DQ Tau’s low-cadence observations, we have obtained continuous, moderate-cadence, multiband photometry over 10 orbital periods, supplemented with 27 nights of minute-cadence photometry centered on four separate periastron passages. While both accretion and stellar flares are present, the dominant timescale and morphology of brightening events are characteristic of accretion. On average, the mass accretion rate increases by a factor of five near periastron, in good agreement with recent models. Large variability is observed in the morphology and amplitude of accretion events from orbit to orbit. We argue that this is due to the absence of stable circumstellar disks around each star, compounded by inhomogeneities at the inner edge of the CBD and within the accretion streams themselves. Quasiperiodic apastron accretion events are also observed, which are not predicted by binary accretion theory.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/835/1/8},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 835,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Jan 20 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Fri Jan 20 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}
  • We report the detection of an anomalous accretion flare in the tight eccentric pre-main-sequence binary system DQ Tau. In a multi-epoch survey consisting of randomly acquired low- to moderate-resolution near-infrared spectra obtained over a period of almost 10 yr, we detect a significant and simultaneous brightening of four standard accretion indicators (Ca II infrared triplet, the Paschen and Brackett series H I lines, and He I 1.083 μm), on back-to-back nights (φ = 0.372 and 0.433) with the flare increasing in strength as the system approached apastron (φ = 0.5). The mass accretion rate measured for the anomalous flare ismore » nearly an order of magnitude stronger than the average quiescent rate. While previous observations established that frequent, periodic accretion flares phased with periastron passages occur in this system, these data provide evidence that orbitally modulated accretion flares occur near apastron, when the stars make their closest approach to the circumbinary disk. The timing of the flare suggests that this outburst is due to interactions of the stellar cores (or the highly truncated circumstellar disks) with material in non-axisymmetric structures located at the inner edge of the circumbinary disk. We also explore the optical/infrared spectral type mismatch previously observed for T Tauri stars (TTSs) and successfully model the shape of the spectra from 0.8 to 1.0 μm and the strengths of the TiO and FeH bands as manifestations of large cool spots on the surfaces of the stellar companions in DQ Tau. These findings illustrate that a complete model of near-infrared spectra of many TTSs must include parameters for spot filling factors and temperatures.« less
  • We present high spectral resolution (R Almost-Equal-To 108, 000) Stokes V polarimetry of the classical T Tauri stars (CTTSs) GQ Lup and TW Hya obtained with the polarimetric upgrade to the HARPS spectrometer on the ESO 3.6 m telescope. We present data on both photospheric lines and emission lines, concentrating our discussion on the polarization properties of the He I emission lines at 5876 A and 6678 A. The He I lines in these CTTSs contain both narrow emission cores, believed to come from near the accretion shock region on these stars, and broad emission components which may come frommore » either a wind or the large-scale magnetospheric accretion flow. We detect strong polarization in the narrow component of the two He I emission lines in both stars. We observe a maximum implied field strength of 6.05 {+-} 0.24 kG in the 5876 A line of GQ Lup, making it the star with the highest field strength measured in this line for a CTTS. We find field strengths in the two He I lines that are consistent with each other, in contrast to what has been reported in the literature on at least one star. We do not detect any polarization in the broad component of the He I lines on these stars, strengthening the conclusion that they form over a substantially different volume relative to the formation region of the narrow component of the He I lines.« less
  • We investigate the properties of X-ray emission from accretion shocks in classical T Tauri stars (CTTSs), generated where the infalling material impacts the stellar surface. Both observations and models of the accretion process reveal several aspects that are still unclear: the observed X-ray luminosity in accretion shocks is below the predicted value, and the density versus temperature structure of the shocked plasma, with increasing densities at higher temperature, deduced from the observations, is at odds with that proposed in the current picture of accretion shocks. To address these open issues, we investigate whether a correct treatment of the local absorptionmore » by the surrounding medium is crucial to explain the observations. To this end, we describe the impact of an accretion stream on a CTTS by considering a magnetohydrodynamic model. From the model results, we synthesize the X-ray emission from the accretion shock by producing maps and spectra. We perform density and temperature diagnostics on the synthetic spectra, and we directly compare the results with observations. Our model shows that the X-ray fluxes inferred from the emerging spectra are lower than expected because of the complex local absorption by the optically thick material of the chromosphere and of the unperturbed stream. Moreover, our model, including the effects of local absorption, explains in a natural way the apparently puzzling pattern of density versus temperature observed in the X-ray emission from accretion shocks.« less
  • Previous studies of the classical T Tauri star AA Tau have interpreted the UX-Orionis-like photo-polarimetric variability as being due to a warp in the inner disk caused by an inclined stellar magnetic dipole field. We test that these effects are macroscopically observable in the inclination and alignment of the disk. We use Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/STIS coronagraphic imagery to measure the V magnitude of the star for both STIS coronagraphic observations, compare these data with optical photometry in the literature, and find that, unlike other classical T Tauri stars observed in the same HST program, the disk is most robustlymore » detected in scattered light at stellar optical minimum light. We measure the outer disk radius, 1.''15 {+-} 0.''10, major-axis position angle, and disk inclination and find that the inner disk, as reported in the literature, is both misinclined and misaligned with respect to the outer disk. AA Tau drives a faint jet, detected in both STIS observations and in follow-on Goddard Fabry-Perot imagery, which is also misaligned with respect to the projection of the outer disk minor axis and is poorly collimated near the star, but which can be traced 21'' from the star in data from 2005. The measured outer disk inclination, 71 Degree-Sign {+-} 1 Degree-Sign , is out of the range of inclinations suggested for stars with UX-Orionis-like variability when no grain growth has occurred in the disk. The faintness of the disk, small disk size, and detection of the star despite the high inclination all indicate that the dust disk must have experienced grain growth and settling toward the disk midplane, which we verify by comparing the observed disk with model imagery from the literature.« less
  • We implement a least-squares deconvolution (LSD) code to study magnetic fields on cool stars. We first apply our code to high-resolution optical echelle spectra of 53 Cam (a magnetic Ap star) and three well-studied cool stars (Arcturus, 61 Cyg A, and ξ Boo A) as well as the Sun (by observing the asteroid Vesta) as tests of the code and the instrumentation. Our analysis is based on several hundred photospheric lines spanning the wavelength range 5000 Å to 9000 Å. We then apply our LSD code to six nights of data on the Classical T Tauri Star BP Tau. Amore » maximum longitudinal field of 370 ± 80 G is detected from the photospheric lines on BP Tau. A 1.8 kG dipole tilted at 129° with respect to the rotation axis and a 1.4 kG octupole tilted at 104° with respect to the rotation axis, both with a filling factor of 0.25, best fit our LSD Stokes V profiles. Measurements of several emission lines (He I 5876 Å, Ca II 8498 Å, and 8542 Å) show the presence of strong magnetic fields in the line formation regions of these lines, which are believed to be the base of the accretion footpoints. The field strength measured from these lines shows night-to-night variability consistent with rotation of the star.« less