Alexander Brown

University of St Andrews, Saint Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Publications (99)443.37 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The 9 Myr old TW Hya Association (TWA) is the nearest group (typical distances of $\sim$50 pc) of pre-main-sequence (PMS) stars with ages less than 10 Myr and contains stars with both actively accreting disks and debris disks. We have studied the coronal X-ray emission from a group of low mass TWA common proper motion binaries using the {\it{Chandra}} and {\it{Swift}} satellites. Our aim is to understand better their coronal properties and how high energy photons affect the conditions around young stars and their role in photo-exciting atoms, molecules and dust grains in circumstellar disks and lower density circumstellar gas. Once planet formation is underway, this emission influences protoplanetary evolution and the atmospheric conditions of the newly-formed planets. The X-ray properties for 7 individual stars (TWA 13A, TWA 13B, TWA 9A, TWA 9B, TWA 8A, TWA 8B, and TWA 7) and 2 combined binary systems (TWA 3AB and TWA 2AB) have been measured. All the stars with sufficient signal require two-component fits to their CCD-resolution X-ray spectra, typically with a dominant hot (~2 kev (25 MK)) component and a cooler component at ~0.4 keV (4 MK). The brighter sources all show significant X-ray variability (at a level of 50-100\% of quiescence) over the course of 5-15 ksec observations due to flares. We present the X-ray properties for each of the stars and find that the coronal emission is in the super-saturated rotational domain.
    08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Interstellar reddening corrections are necessary to reconstruct the intrinsic spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of accreting protostellar systems. The stellar SED determines the heating and chemical processes that can occur in circumstellar disks. Measurement of neutral hydrogen absorption against broad Lyman-$\alpha$ emission profiles in young stars can be used to obtain the total H I column density (N(H I)) along the line of sight. We measure N(H I) with new and archival ultraviolet observations from the Hubble Space Telescope ($HST$) of 31 classical T Tauri and Herbig Ae/Be stars. The H I column densities range from log$_{10}$(N(H I)) $\approx 19.6 - 21.1$, with corresponding visual extinctions of A$_{V}$ $= 0.02 - 0.72$ mag, assuming an R$_{V}$ of 3.1. We find that the majority of the H I absorption along the line of sight likely comes from interstellar rather than circumstellar material. Extinctions derived from new $HST$ blue-optical spectral analyses, previous IR and optical measurements, and new X-ray column densities on average overestimate the interstellar extinction toward young stars compared to the N(H I) values by $\sim 0.6$ mag. We discuss possible explanations for this discrepancy in the context of a protoplanetary disk geometry.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2013; 780(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multi-wavelength centimeter continuum observations of non-dusty, non-pulsating K spectral-type red giants directly sample their chromospheres and wind acceleration zones. Such stars are feeble emitters at these wavelengths however, and previous observations have provided only a small number of modest S/N measurements slowly accumulated over three decades. We present multi-wavelength Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array thermal continuum observations of the wind acceleration zones of two dust-free red giants, Arcturus (Alpha Boo: K2 III) and Aldebaran (Alpha Tau: K5 III). Importantly, most of our observations of each star were carried out over just a few days, so that we obtained a snapshot of the different stellar atmospheric layers sampled at different wavelengths, independent of any long-term variability. We report the first detections at several wavelengths for each star including a detection at 10 cm (3.0 GHz: S band) for both stars and a 20 cm (1.5 GHz: L band) detection for Alpha Boo. This is the first time single luminosity class III red giants have been detected at these continuum wavelengths. Our long-wavelength data sample the outer layers of Alpha Boo's atmosphere where its wind velocity is approaching its terminal value and the ionization balance is becoming frozen-in. For Alpha Tau, however, our long-wavelength data are still sampling its inner atmosphere, where the wind is still accelerating probably due to its lower mass-loss rate. We compare our data with published semi-empirical models based on ultraviolet data, and the marked deviations highlight the need for new atmospheric models to be developed. Spectral indices are used to discuss the possible properties of the stellar atmospheres, and we find evidence for a rapidly cooling wind in the case of Alpha Boo. Finally, we develop a simple analytical wind model for Alpha Boo based on our new long-wavelength flux measurements.
    The Astronomical Journal 09/2013; 146(4). · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For Classical T Tauri Stars (CTTSs), the resonance lines of N V, Si IV, and C IV, as well as the He II 1640 A line, act as diagnostics of the accretion process. Here we assemble a large high-resolution dataset of these lines in CTTSs and Weak T Tauri Stars (WTTSs). We present data for 35 stars: one Herbig Ae star, 28 CTTSs, and 6 WTTSs. We decompose the C IV and He II lines into broad and narrow Gaussian components (BC & NC). The most common (50 %) C IV line morphology in CTTSs is that of a low-velocity NC together with a redshifted BC. The velocity centroids of the BCs and NCs are such that V_BC > 4 * V_NC, consistent with the predictions of the accretion shock model, in at most 12 out of 22 CTTSs. We do not find evidence of the post-shock becoming buried in the stellar photosphere due to the pressure of the accretion flow. The He II CTTSs lines are generally symmetric and narrow, less redshifted than the CTTSs C IV lines, by ~10 km/sec. The flux in the BC of the He II line is small compared to that of the C IV line, consistent with models of the pre-shock column emission. The observations are consistent with the presence of multiple accretion columns with different densities or with accretion models that predict a slow-moving, low-density region in the periphery of the accretion column. For HN Tau A and RW Aur A, most of the C IV line is blueshifted suggesting that the C IV emission is produced by shocks within outflow jets. In our sample, the Herbig Ae star DX Cha is the only object for which we find a P-Cygni profile in the C IV line, which argues for the presence of a hot (10^5 K) wind. For the overall sample, the Si IV and N V line luminosities are correlated with the C IV line luminosities, although the relationship between Si IV and C IV shows large scatter about a linear relationship and suggests that TW Hya, V4046 Sgr, AA Tau, DF Tau, GM Aur, and V1190 Sco are silicon-poor.
    The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 04/2013; 207(1). · 16.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyze the accretion properties of 21 low mass T Tauri stars using a dataset of contemporaneous near ultraviolet (NUV) through optical observations obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the ground based Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS), a unique dataset because of the nearly simultaneous broad wavelength coverage. Our dataset includes accreting T Tauri stars (CTTS) in Taurus, Chamaeleon I, $\eta$ Chamaeleon and the TW Hydra Association. For each source we calculate the accretion rate by fitting the NUV and optical excesses above the photosphere, produced in the accretion shock, introducing multiple accretion components characterized by a range in energy flux (or density) for the first time. This treatment is motivated by models of the magnetospheric geometry and accretion footprints, which predict that high density, low filling factor accretion spots co-exist with low density, high filling factor spots. By fitting the UV and optical spectra with multiple accretion components, we can explain excesses which have been observed in the near infrared. Comparing our estimates of the accretion rate to previous estimates, we find some discrepancies; however, they may be accounted for when considering assumptions for the amount of extinction and variability in optical spectra. Therefore, we confirm many previous estimates of the accretion rate. Finally, we measure emission line luminosities from the same spectra used for the accretion rate estimates, to produce correlations between accretion indicators (H$\beta$, Ca II K, C II] and Mg II) and accretion properties obtained simultaneously.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2013; 767(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon monoxide (CO) is the most commonly used tracer of molecular gas in the inner regions of protoplanetary disks. CO can be used to constrain the excitation and structure of the circumstellar environment. Absorption line spectroscopy provides an accurate assessment of a single line-of-sight through the protoplanetary disk system, giving more straightforward estimates of column densities and temperatures than CO and molecular hydrogen emission line studies. We analyze new observations of ultraviolet CO absorption from the Hubble Space Telescope along the sightlines to six classical T Tauri stars. Gas velocities consistent with the stellar velocities, combined with the moderate-to-high disk inclinations, argue against the absorbing CO gas originating in a fast-moving disk wind. We conclude that the far-ultraviolet observations provide a direct measure of the disk atmosphere or possibly a slow disk wind. The CO absorption lines are reproduced by model spectra with column densities in the range N(^{12}CO) ~ 10^{16} - 10^{18} cm^{-2} and N(^{13}CO) ~ 10^{15} - 10^{17} cm^{-2}, rotational temperatures T_{rot}(CO) ~ 300 - 700 K, and Doppler b-values, b ~ 0.5 - 1.5 km s^{-1}. We use these results to constrain the line-of-sight density of the warm molecular gas (n_{CO} ~ 70 - 4000 cm^{-3}) and put these observations in context with protoplanetary disk models.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2013; 766(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Kepler satellite is providing spectacular optical photometric light-curves of unprecedented precision and duration that routinely allow detailed studies of stellar magnetic activity on late-type stars that were difficult previously. Kepler provides multi-year duration light-curves that allow investigation of how activity phenomena -- such as the growth, migration, and decay of star-spots, differential rotation, activity cycles, and flaring -- operate on a wide variety of single and binary stars. The 105 square degree Kepler Field contains tens of thousands of late-type stars showing rotational modulation due to star-spots with periods ranging from one day to a ``solar-like'' month. Short rotation periods and high levels of magnetic activity are strongly correlated. However, there are only two basic reasons why stars with rotation periods of a few days possess such high angular momentum --- either they are close binaries or they are young stars. During Kepler GO Cycles 1 through 4 we have been studying the Long-cadence (30 minute sampling) photometry of hundreds of active late-type stars and as an absolutely essential complement we have been obtaining high resolution optical spectra to understand the physical properties of these stars. We present results from a spectroscopic survey using the MMT Hectochelle multi-object echelle of 4 square degrees of the Kepler Field. We have discovered a significant population of young stars with Li I absorption indicating ages of ~100 Myr or less at a spatial density of at least 20 stars per square degree. Our detected young star sample comprises at least 80 stars and represents a dramatic advance compared to the previously known sample over the full Kepler Field of three stars in this age range. Roughly one sixth of the stars observed are young and a similar number short-period binaries based on 2-4 radial velocities. We show how the rotational properties of the stars and their physical properties are related. This work is based on data obtained with the NASA Kepler satellite and the MMT Hectochelle spectrograph using NOAO community access time. Support by NASA Kepler grants to the University of Colorado and by NSF grant to the College of Charleston.
    01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Far-ultraviolet (FUV) radiation plays an important role in determining chemical abundances in protoplanetary disks. H I Lyman {alpha} (Ly{alpha}) is suspected to be the dominant component of the FUV emission from Classical T Tauri Stars (CTTSs), but is difficult to measure directly due to circumstellar and interstellar H I absorption. To better characterize the intrinsic Ly{alpha} radiation, we present FUV spectra of 14 CTTSs taken with the Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph instruments. H{sub 2} fluorescence, commonly seen in the spectra of CTTSs, is excited by Ly{alpha} photons, providing an indirect measure of the Ly{alpha} flux incident upon the warm disk surface. We use observed H{sub 2} progression fluxes to reconstruct the CTTS Ly{alpha} profiles. The Ly{alpha} flux correlates with total measured FUV flux, in agreement with an accretion-related source of FUV emission. With a geometry-independent analysis, we confirm that in accreting T Tauri systems Ly{alpha} radiation dominates the FUV flux ({approx}1150 A -1700 A). In the systems surveyed this one line comprises 70%-90% of the total FUV flux.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 09/2012; 756(1). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Few scientific discoveries have captured the public imagination like the explosion of exoplanetary science during the past two decades. This work has fundamentally changed our picture of Earth's place in the Universe and led NASA to make significant investments towards understanding the demographics of exoplanetary systems and the conditions that lead to their formation. The story of the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems is essentially the story of the circumstellar gas and dust that are initially present in the protostellar environment; in order to understand the variety of planetary systems observed, we need to understand the life cycle of circumstellar gas from its initial conditions in protoplanetary disks to its endpoint as planets and their atmospheres. In this white paper response to NASA's Request for Information "Science Objectives and Requirements for the Next NASA UV/Visible Astrophysics Mission Concepts (NNH12ZDA008L)", we describe scientific programs that would use the unique capabilities of a future NASA ultraviolet (UV)/visible space observatory to make order-of-magnitude advances in our understanding of the life cycle of circumstellar gas.
    08/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Far-ultraviolet (FUV) radiation plays an important role in determining chemical abundances in protoplanetary disks. HI Lyman alpha is suspected to be the dominant component of the FUV emission from Classical T Tauri Stars (CTTSs), but is difficult to measure directly due to circumstellar and interstellar HI absorption. To better characterize the intrinsic Lyman alpha radiation, we present FUV spectra of 14 CTTSs taken with the Hubble Space Telescope COS and STIS instruments. H2 fluorescence, commonly seen in the spectra of CTTSs, is excited by Lyman alpha photons, providing an indirect measure of the Lyman alpha flux incident upon the warm disk surface. We use observed H2 progression fluxes to reconstruct the CTTS Lyman alpha profiles. The Lyman alpha flux correlates with total measured FUV flux, in agreement with an accretion-related source of FUV emission. With a geometry-independent analysis, we confirm that in accreting T Tauri systems Lyman alpha radiation dominates the FUV flux (~1150 - 1700 Angstroms). In the systems surveyed this one line comprises 70 - 90 % of the total FUV flux.
    08/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The formation timescale and final architecture of exoplanetary systems are closely related to the properties of the molecular disks from which they form. Observations of the spatial distribution and lifetime of the molecular gas at planet-forming radii (r < 10 AU) are important for understanding the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems. Towards this end, we present the largest spectrally resolved survey of H2 emission around low-mass pre-main sequence stars compiled to date. We use a combination of new and archival far-ultraviolet spectra from the COS and STIS instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope to sample 34 T Tauri stars (27 actively accreting CTTSs and 7 non-accreting WTTSs) with ages ranging from roughly 1-10 Myr. We observe fluorescent H2 emission, excited by LyA photons, in 100 of the accreting sources, including all of the transitional disks in our sample (CS Cha, DM Tau, GM Aur, UX Tau A, LkCa15, HD 135344B and TW Hya). The spatial distribution of the emitting gas is inferred from spectrally resolved H2 line profiles. Some of the emitting gas is produced in outflowing material, but the majority of H2 emission appears to originate in a rotating disk. For the disk-dominated targets, the H2 emission originates predominately at r < 3 AU. The emission line-widths and inner molecular radii are found to be roughly consistent with those measured from mid-IR CO spectra.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2012; 756(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report radio interferometric observations of the 12C16O 1.3 mm J = 2-1 emission line in the circumstellar envelope of the M supergiant Alpha Ori and have detected and separated both the S1 and S2 flow components for the first time. Observations were made with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) interferometer in the C, D, and E antenna configurations. We obtain good u-v coverage (5-280 klambda) by combining data from all three configurations allowing us to trace spatial scales as small as 0.9\arcsec over a 32\arcsec field of view. The high spectral and spatial resolution C configuration line profile shows that the inner S1 flow has slightly asymmetric outflow velocities ranging from -9.0 km s-1 to +10.6 km s-1 with respect to the stellar rest frame. We find little evidence for the outer S2 flow in this configuration because the majority of this emission has been spatially-filtered (resolved out) by the array. We also report a SOFIA-GREAT CO(J= 12-11) emission line profile which we associate with this inner higher excitation S1 flow. The outer S2 flow appears in the D and E configuration maps and its outflow velocity is found to be in good agreement with high resolution optical spectroscopy of K I obtained at the McDonald Observatory. We image both S1 and S2 in the multi-configuration maps and see a gradual change in the angular size of the emission in the high absolute velocity maps. We assign an outer radius of 4\arcsec to S1 and propose that S2 extends beyond CARMA's field of view (32\arcsec at 1.3 mm) out to a radius of 17\arcsec which is larger than recent single-dish observations have indicated. When azimuthally averaged, the intensity fall-off for both flows is found to be proportional to R^{-1}, where R is the projected radius, indicating optically thin winds with \rho \propto R^{-2}.
    The Astronomical Journal 06/2012; 144(2). · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Old dwarf stars have generally spun down significantly thus dampening one of the main contributors (rotation) to solar-like alpha-omega magnetic dynamo activity. Studying how stellar activity on stars older than the Sun changes in terms of the chromospheric/transition-region/coronal temperature structure and how much energy is radiated as a function of temperature provides important constraints on how solar-like dynamos work. Stars with different metallicities provide information on how the radiative cooling channels control the temperature structure. We have measured fluxes and profiles of FUV emission lines using the HST COS spectrograph and the broad-band X-ray fluxes using Chandra ACIS-S for a sample of old inactive dwarfs. Our sample comprises five members of the 7-8 Gyr Arcturus Moving Group --- HD90508/LHS2266 (F9 V/M4 V, [Fe/H] = -0.4), HD65583 (G8 V, Fe/H]=-0.7), and HD145417 (K0 V, [Fe/H]=-1.4) --- plus three well-studied comparison stars -- HD103095 (G8 V, [Fe/H]=-1.4), Tau Ceti (G8 V, [Fe/H]=-0.4), and the Quiet Sun (G2 V, [Fe/H]=0.0). In this poster we provide estimates of atmospheric radiative losses as a function of temperature and metallicity. The atmospheres of these low-metallicity stars are more heavily weighted towards cooler temperatures than those of more active stars or even the Sun. Chromospheric emission lines, e.g. C I lines, are far stronger relative transition region lines, e.g C IV. Similarly the X-ray data provide detections for all the targets but with primarily very soft (0.3-0.5 keV) photons and imply "coronal" temperatures of less than 1 MK. While the temperature distributions are cooler, the overall integrated X-ray and FUV luminosities are similar to those of the "Quiet Sun" -- implying that similar amounts of non-radiative energy input are being dissipated. This work is supported by NASA GALEX grant NNX06AB46G, HST grants GO-11555 and GO-11829, and Chandra grants GO6-7018X, GO7-8020X, and GO9-0021X to the University of Colorado.
    05/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon monoxide is a commonly used IR/submillimeter tracer of gas in protoplanetary disks. We present an analysis of ultraviolet CO emission in Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph spectra for 12 Classical T Tauri stars (CTTSs). Several ro-vibrational bands of the CO A 1Π-X 1Σ+ (Fourth Positive) electronic transition system are spectrally resolved from emission of other atoms and H2. The CO A 1Π v' = 14 state is populated by absorption of Lyα photons, created at the accretion column on the stellar surface. For targets with strong CO emission, we model the Lyα radiation field as an input for a simple fluorescence model to estimate CO rotational excitation temperatures and column densities. Typical column densities range from N CO = 1018 to 1019 cm–2. Our measured excitation temperatures are mostly below T CO = 600 K, cooler than typical M-band CO emission. These temperatures and the emission line widths imply that the UV emission originates in a different population of CO than that which is IR-emitting. We also find a significant correlation between CO emission and the disk accretion rate and age. Our analysis shows that ultraviolet CO emission can be a useful diagnostic of CTTS disk gas.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2012; 746(1):97. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a far-ultraviolet (FUV) spectral atlas consisting of spectra of 91 pre-main-sequence stars. Most stars in this sample were observed with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). A few archival spectra from the International Ultraviolet Explorer and the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph on HST are included for completeness. We find strong correlations among the O I λ1304 triplet, the Si IV λλ1394/1403 doublet, the C IV λ1549 doublet, and the He II λ1640 line luminosities. For classical T Tauri stars (CTTSs), we also find strong correlations between these lines and the accretion luminosity, suggesting that these lines form in processes related to accretion. These FUV line fluxes and X-ray luminosity correlate loosely with large scatters. The FUV emission also correlates well with Hα, Hβ, and Ca II K line luminosities. These correlations between FUV and optical diagnostics can be used to obtain rough estimates of FUV line fluxes from optical observations. Molecular hydrogen (H2) emission is generally present in the spectra of actively accreting CTTSs but not the weak-lined T Tauri stars that are not accreting. The presence of H2 emission in the spectrum of HD 98800 N suggests that the disk should be classified as actively accreting rather than a debris disk. We discuss the importance of FUV radiation, including the hydrogen Lyα line, on the photoevaporation of exoplanet atmospheres. We find that the Ca II/C IV flux ratios for more evolved stars are lower than those for less evolved accretors, indicating preferential depletion of refractory metals into dust grains.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2011; 744(2):121. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The direct study of molecular gas in inner protoplanetary disks is complicated by uncertainties in the spatial distribution of the gas, the time variability of the source, and the comparison of observations across a wide range of wavelengths. Some of these challenges can be mitigated with far-ultraviolet spectroscopy. Using new observations obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, we measure column densities and rovibrational temperatures for CO and H2 observed on the line of sight through the AA Tauri circumstellar disk. CO A - X absorption bands are observed against the far-UV continuum. The CO absorption is characterized by log10(N(12CO)) = 17.5 ± 0.5 cm–2 and T rot(CO) = 500+500 –200 K, although this rotational temperature may underestimate the local kinetic temperature of the CO-bearing gas. We also detect 13CO in absorption with an isotopic ratio of ~20. We do not observe H2 absorption against the continuum; however, hot H2 (v > 0) is detected in absorption against the Lyα emission line. We measure the column densities in eight individual rovibrational states, determining a total log10(N(H2)) = 17.9+0.6 –0.3 cm–2 with a thermal temperature of T(H2) = 2500+800 –700 K. The high temperature of the molecules, the relatively small H2 column density, and the high inclination of the AA Tauri disk suggest that the absorbing gas resides in an inner disk atmosphere. If the H2 and CO are cospatial within a molecular layer ~0.6 AU thick, this region is characterized by ~ 105 cm–3 with an observed CO/H2 ratio of ~0.4. We also find evidence for a departure from a purely thermal H2 distribution, suggesting that excitation by continuum photons and H2 formation may be altering the level populations in the molecular gas.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2011; 744(1):22. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Young stars surrounded by disks with very low mass accretion rates are likely in the final stages of inner disk evolution and therefore particularly interesting to study. We present ultraviolet (UV) observations of the ~5-9 Myr old stars RECX-1 and RECX-11, obtained with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), as well as optical and near infrared spectroscopic observations. The two stars have similar levels of near UV emission, although spectroscopic evidence indicates that RECX-11 is accreting and RECX-1 is not. The line profiles of Halpha and He I 10830 in RECX-11 show both broad and narrow redshifted absorption components that vary with time, revealing the complexity of the accretion flows. We show that accretion indicators commonly used to measure mass accretion rates, e.g. U band excess luminosity or the Ca II triplet line luminosity are unreliable for low accretors, at least in the middle K spectral range. Using RECX-1 as a template for the intrinsic level of photospheric and chromospheric emission, we determine an upper limit of 3 x 10^-10 solar masses/ year for RECX-11. At this low accretion rate, recent photoevaporation models predict that an inner hole should have developed in the disk. However, the spectral energy distribution of RECX-11 shows fluxes comparable to the median of Taurus in the near infrared, indicating that substantial dust remains. Fluorescent H_2 emission lines formed in the innermost disk are observed in RECX-11, showing that gas is present in the inner disk, along with the dust.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2011; 743(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We exploit the high sensitivity and moderate spectral resolution of the $HST$-Cosmic Origins Spectrograph to detect far-ultraviolet spectral features of carbon monoxide (CO) present in the inner regions of protoplanetary disks for the first time. We present spectra of the classical T Tauri stars HN Tau, RECX-11, and V4046 Sgr, representative of a range of CO radiative processes. HN Tau shows CO bands in absorption against the accretion continuum. We measure a CO column density and rotational excitation temperature of N(CO) = 2 +/- 1 $\times$ 10$^{17}$ cm$^{-2}$ and T_rot(CO) 500 +/- 200 K for the absorbing gas. We also detect CO A-X band emission in RECX-11 and V4046 Sgr, excited by ultraviolet line photons, predominantly HI LyA. All three objects show emission from CO bands at $\lambda$ $>$ 1560 \AA, which may be excited by a combination of UV photons and collisions with non-thermal electrons. In previous observations these emission processes were not accounted for due to blending with emission from the accretion shock, collisionally excited H$_{2}$, and photo-excited H2; all of which appeared as a "continuum" whose components could not be separated. The CO emission spectrum is strongly dependent upon the shape of the incident stellar LyA emission profile. We find CO parameters in the range: N(CO) 10$^{18-19}$ cm$^{-2}$, T_{rot}(CO) > 300 K for the LyA-pumped emission. We combine these results with recent work on photo- and collisionally-excited H$_{2}$ emission, concluding that the observations of ultraviolet-emitting CO and H2 are consistent with a common spatial origin. We suggest that the CO/H2 ratio in the inner disk is ~1, a transition between the much lower interstellar value and the higher value observed in solar system comets today, a result that will require future observational and theoretical study to confirm.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2011; 734(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Kepler satellite is providing spectacular optical photometric light-curves of unprecedented precision and duration that routinely allow detailed studies of stellar magnetic activity on late-type stars that were difficult, if not impossible, to attempt previously. Rotational modulation due to starspots is commonly seen in the Kepler light-curves of late-type stars, allowing detailed study of the surface distribution of their photospheric magnetic activity. Kepler is providing multi-year duration light-curves that allow us to investigate how activity phenomena -- such as the growth, migration, and decay of starspots, differential rotation, activity cycles, and flaring -- operate on single and binary stars with a wide range of mass and convection zone depth. We present the first results from detailed starspot modeling using newly-developed light-curve inversion codes for a range of GALEX-selected stars with typical rotation periods of a few days, that we have observed as part of our 200 target Kepler Cycle 1/2 Guest Observer programs. The physical properties of the stars have been measured using high resolution optical spectroscopy, which allows the Kepler results to be placed within the existing framework of knowledge regarding stellar magnetic activity. These results demonstrate the powerful diagnostic capability provided by tracking starspot evolution essentially continuously for more than 16 months. The starspots are clearly sampling the stellar rotation rate at different latitudes, enabling us to measure the differential rotation and starspot lifetimes. As would be expected, stars with few day rotation show frequent flaring that is easily seen as "white-light" flares in Kepler light-curves. We compare the observed flare rates and occurrence with the starspot properties. This work contains results obtained using the NASA Kepler satellite and from the Apache Point Observatory, the MMT (using NOAO community access time), and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. Funding is provided by NASA Kepler grants NNX10AC51G and NNX11AC79G.
    01/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: The Kepler satellite provides a unique opportunity to study the detailed optical photometric variability of late-type stars with unprecedentedly long (several year) continuous monitoring and sensitivity to very small-scale variations. We are studying a sample of over two hundred cool (mid-A - late-K spectral type) stars using Kepler long-cadence (30 minute sampling) observations. These stars show a remarkable range of photometric variability, but in this paper we concentrate on rotational modulation due to starspots and flaring. Modulation at the 0.1% level is readily discernable. We highlight the rapid timescales of starspot evolution seen on solar-like stars with rotational periods between 2 and 7 days.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 07/2010; 6:78 - 82.

Publication Stats

1k Citations
443.37 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • University of St Andrews
      • School of Physics and Astronomy
      Saint Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1998–2013
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      • Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 2009
    • University of California, Davis
      • Department of Physics
      Davis, California, United States
  • 1991
    • Indiana University Bloomington
      Bloomington, Indiana, United States