Journal Article

The basal chromospheric Mg <span class="smallCaps">ii</span> <i>h</i>+<i>k</i> flux of evolved stars: probing the energy dissipation of giant chromospheres

M. Isabel Pérez Martínez, K.-P. Schröder and M. Cuntz

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 1, pages 418-427
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The basal chromospheric Mg ii h+k flux of evolved stars: probing the energy dissipation of giant chromospheres

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Of a total of 177 cool G, K and M giants and supergiants, we measured the Mg ii h+k line emission of extended chromospheres in high-resolution (LWR) International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) spectra by using the IUE final data archive at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and derived the respective stellar surface fluxes. They represent the chromospheric radiative energy losses presumably related to basal heating by the dissipation of acoustic waves, plus a highly variable contribution due to magnetic activity.

Thanks to the large sample size, we find a very well defined lower limit, the basal chromospheric Mg ii h+k line flux of cool giant chromospheres, as a function of Teff. A total of 16 giants were observed several times, over a period of up to 20 yr. Their respective minimal Mg ii h+k line fluxes confirm the basal flux limit very well because none of their emissions dips beneath the empirically deduced basal flux line representative for the overall sample. Based on a total of 15–22 objects with very low Mg ii h+k emission, we find as limit (cgs units; based on the BV relation). Within its uncertainties, this is almost the same relation as has been found in the past for the geometrically much thinner chromospheres of main-sequence stars. But any residual dependence of the basal flux on the surface gravity is difficult to determine, since especially among the G-type giants there is a large spread of the individual chromospheric Mg ii fluxes, apparently due to revived magnetic activity. However, it can be stated that over a gravity range of more than 4 orders of magnitude (main-sequence stars to supergiants), the basal flux does not appear to vary by more than a factor of 2.

These findings are in good agreement with the predictions by previous hydrodynamic models of acoustic wave propagation and energy dissipation, as well as with earlier empirical determinations. Finally, we also discuss the idea that the ample energy flux of the chromospheric acoustic waves in a cool giant may yield, as a by-product, the energy flux required by its cool wind (i.e. non-dust-driven, ‘Reimers-type’ mass-loss), provided a dissipation mechanism of a sufficiently long range is operating.

Keywords: stars: activity; stars: chromospheres; stars: late-type; stars: mass-loss; supergiants; stars: winds, outflows

Journal Article.  6153 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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