A Chandra study: Are dwarf carbon stars spun up and rejuvenated by mass transfer?

Paul J. Green, Rodolfo Montez, Fernando Mazzoni, Joseph Filippazzo, Scott F. Anderson, Orsola De Marco, Jeremy J. Drake, Jay Farihi, Adam Frank, Joel H. Kastner, Brent Miszalski, Benjamin R. Roulston

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    Carbon stars (with C/O > 1) were long assumed to all be giants, because only asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars dredge up significant carbon into their atmospheres. The case is nearly ironclad now that the formerly mysterious dwarf carbon (dC) stars are actually far more common than C giants and have accreted carbon-rich material from a former AGB companion, yielding a white dwarf (WD) and a dC star that has gained both significant mass and angular momentum. Some such dC systems have undergone a planetary nebula phase, and some may evolve to become CH, CEMP, or Ba giants. Recent studies indicate that most dCs are likely from older, metal-poor kinematic populations. Given the well-known anticorrelation of age and activity, dCs would not be expected to show significant X-ray emission related to coronal activity. However, accretion spin-up might be expected to rejuvenate magnetic dynamos in these post-mass-transfer binary systems. We describe our Chandra pilot study of six dCs selected from the SDSS for Hα emission and/or a hot WD companion, to test whether their X-ray emission strength and spectral properties are consistent with a rejuvenated dynamo. We detect all six dCs in the sample, which have X-ray luminosities ranging from log Lx ∼ 28.5 -29.7, preliminary evidence that dCs may be active at a level consistent with stars that have short rotation periods of several days or less. More definitive results require a sample of typical dCs with deeper X-ray observations to better constrain their plasma temperatures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number49
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2019 The American Astronomical Society. First published in the Astrophysical journal, 881(1), 49, 2019, published by IOP Publishing. The original publication is available at http://www.doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab2bf4. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • binaries: general
    • stars: carbon
    • stars: chemically peculiar
    • X-rays: stars


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