Journal Article

<i>ROSAT</i> observations of V471 Tauri, showing that stellar activity is determined by rotation, not age

Peter J. Wheatley

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 297, issue 4, pages 1145-1150
Published in print July 1998 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 1998 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.1998.01607.x
ROSAT observations of V471 Tauri, showing that stellar activity is determined by rotation, not age

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I present pointed ROSAT PSPC observations of the pre-cataclysmic binary V471 Tauri. The hard X-ray emission (>0.4 keV) is not eclipsed by the K star, demonstrating conclusively that this component cannot be emitted by the white dwarf. Instead I show that its spectrum and luminosity are consistent with coronal emission from the tidally spun-up K star. The star is more active than other K stars in the Hyades, but equally active as K stars in the Pleiades with the same rotation periods, demonstrating that rotation — and not age — is the key parameter in determining the level of stellar activity.

The soft X-ray emission (<0.4 keV) is emitted predominately by the white dwarf and is modulated on its spin period. I find that the pulse profile is stable on time-scales of hours and years, supporting the idea that it is caused by the opacity of accreted material. The profile itself shows that the magnetic field configuration of the white dwarf is dipolar and that the magnetic axis passes through the centre of the star.

There is an absorption feature in the light curve of the white dwarf, which occurs at a time when our line of sight passes within a stellar radius of the K star. The column density and duration of this feature imply a volume and mass for the absorber that are similar to those of coronal mass ejections of the Sun.

Finally I suggest that the spin–orbit beat period detected in the optical by Clemens et al. may be the result of the interaction of the K-star wind with the magnetic field of the white dwarf.

Keywords: stars: activity; binaries: close; stars: individual: V471 Tau; novae; cataclysmic variables; white dwarfs; X-rays: stars

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Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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