J. M. Alcalá

The Astronomical Observatory of Brera, Merate, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (198)380.6 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of FLAMES/UVES and FLAMES/GIRAFFE spectroscopic observations of 23 low-mass stars in the L1615/L1616 cometary cloud, complemented with FORS2 and VIMOS spectroscopy of 31 additional stars in the same cloud. L1615/L1616 is a cometary cloud where the star formation was triggered by the impact of the massive stars in the Orion OB association. From the measurements of the lithium abundance and radial velocity, we confirm the membership of our sample to the cloud. We use the equivalent widths of the H$\alpha$, H$\beta$, and the HeI $\lambda$5876, $\lambda$6678, $\lambda$7065 \AA$ $emission lines to calculate the accretion luminosities, $L_{\rm acc}$, and the mass accretion rates, $\dot M_{\rm acc}$. We find in L1615/L1616 a fraction of accreting objects ($\sim 30\%$), which is consistent with the typical fraction of accretors in T associations of similar age ($\sim 3$ Myr). The mass accretion rate for these stars shows a trend with the mass of the central object similar to that found for other star-forming regions, with a spread at a given mass which depends on the evolutionary model used to derive the stellar mass. Moreover, the behavior of the $2MASS/WISE$ colors with $\dot M_{\rm acc}$ indicates that strong accretors with $\log \dot M_{\rm acc} \gt -8.5$ dex show large excesses in the $JHK{\rm s}$ bands, as in previous studies. We also conclude that the accretion properties of the L1615/L1616 members are similar to those of young stellar objects in T associations, like Lupus.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: As the number of observed brown dwarf outflows is growing it is important to investigate how these outflows compare to the well studied jets from young stellar objects. A key point of comparison is the relationship between outflow and accretion activity and in particular the ratio between the mass outflow and accretion rates ($\dot{M}_{out}$/$\dot{M}_{acc}$). The brown dwarf candidate ISO-ChaI 217 was discovered by our group, as part of a spectro-astrometric study of brown dwarfs, to be driving an asymmetric outflow with the blue-shifted lobe having a position angle of $\sim$ 20$^{\circ}$. The aim here is to further investigate the properties of ISO-ChaI 217, the morphology and kinematics of its outflow, and to better constrain ($\dot{M}_{out}$/$\dot{M}_{acc}$). The outflow is spatially resolved in the $[SII]\lambda \lambda 6716,6731$ lines and is detected out to $\sim$ 1\farcs6 in the blue-shifted lobe and ~ 1" in the red-shifted lobe. The asymmetry between the two lobes is confirmed although the velocity asymmetry is less pronounced with respect to our previous study. Using thirteen different accretion tracers we measure log($\dot{M}_{acc}$) [M$_{sun}$/yr]= -10.6 $\pm$ 0.4. As it was not possible to measure the effect of extinction on the ISO-ChaI 217 outflow $\dot{M}_{out}$ was derived for a range of values of A$_{v}$, up to a value of A$_{v}$ = 2.5 mag estimated for the source extinction. The logarithm of the mass outflow ($\dot{M}_{out}$) was estimated in the range -11.7 to -11.1 for both jets combined. Thus $\dot{M}_{out}$/$\dot{M}_{acc}$ [\Msun/yr] lies below the maximum value predicted by magneto-centrifugal jet launching models. Finally, both model fitting of the Balmer decrements and spectro-astrometric analysis of the H$\alpha$ line show that the bulk of the H I emission comes from the accretion flow.
    08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Disks around T Tauri stars are known to lose mass, as best shown by the profiles of forbidden emission lines of low ionization species. At least two separate kinematic components have been identified, one characterised by velocity shifts of tens to hundreds km/s (HVC) and one with much lower velocity of few km/s (LVC). The HVC are convincingly associated to the emission of jets, but the origin of the LVC is still unknown. In this paper we analyze the forbidden line spectrum of a sample of 44 mostly low mass young stars in Lupus and $\sigma$-Ori observed with the X-Shooter ESO spectrometer. We detect forbidden line emission of [OI], [OII], [SII], [NI], and [NII], and characterize the line profiles as LVC, blue-shifted HVC and red-shifted HVC. We focus our study on the LVC. We show that there is a good correlation between line luminosity and both L$_{star}$ and the accretion luminosity (or the mass-accretion rate) over a large interval of values (L$_{star}$ $\sim 10^{-2} - 1$ L$_\odot$; L$_{acc}$ $\sim 10^{-5} - 10^{-1}$ L$_\odot$; $\dot M_{acc}$ $\sim 10^{-11} - 10^{-7}$ M$_\odot$/yr). The lines show the presence of a slow wind ($V_{peak}<20$ km/s), dense ($n_H>10^8$ cm$^{-3}$), warm (T$\sim 5000-10000$ K), mostly neutral. We estimate the mass of the emitting gas and provide a value for the maximum volume it occupies. Both quantities increase steeply with the stellar mass, from $\sim 10^{-12}$ M$_\odot$ and $\sim 0.01$ AU$^3$ for M$_{star}$$\sim 0.1$ M$_\odot$, to $\sim 3 \times 10^{-10}$ M$_\odot$ and $\sim 1$ AU$^3$ for M$_{star}$$\sim 1$ M$_\odot$, respectively. These results provide quite stringent constraints to wind models in low mass young stars, that need to be explored further.
    06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Young, nearby stars are ideal targets to search for planets using the direct imaging technique. The determination of stellar parameters is crucial for the interpretation of imaging survey results particularly since the luminosity of substellar objects has a strong dependence on system age. We have conducted a large program with NaCo at the VLT in order to search for planets and brown dwarfs in wide orbits around 86 stars. A large fraction of the targets observed with NaCo were poorly investigated in the literature. We performed a study to characterize the fundamental properties (age, distance, mass) of the stars in our sample. To improve target age determinations, we compiled and analyzed a complete set of age diagnostics. We measured spectroscopic parameters and age diagnostics using dedicated observations acquired with FEROS and CORALIE spectrographs at La Silla Observatory. We also made extensive use of archival spectroscopic data and results available in the literature. Additionally, we exploited photometric time-series, available in ASAS and Super-WASP archives, to derive rotation period for a large fraction of our program stars. We provided updated characterization of all the targets observed in the VLT NaCo Large program, a survey designed to probe the occurrence of exoplanets and brown dwarfs in wide orbits. The median distance and age of our program stars are 64 pc and 100 Myr, respectively. Nearly all the stars have masses between 0.70 and 1.50sun, with a median value of 1.01 Msun. The typical metallicity is close to solar, with a dispersion that is smaller than that of samples usually observed in radial velocity surveys. Several stars are confirmed or proposed here to be members of nearby young moving groups. Eight spectroscopic binaries are identified.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper a comprehensive analysis of VLT / X-Shooter observations of two jet systems, namely ESO-H$\alpha$ 574 a K8 classical T Tauri star and Par-Lup 3-4 a very low mass (0.13~\Msun) M5 star, is presented. Both stars are known to have near-edge on accretion disks. A summary of these first X-shooter observations of jets was given in a 2011 letter. The new results outlined here include flux tables of identified emission lines, information on the morphology, kinematics and physical conditions of both jets and, updated estimates of $\dot{M}_{out}$ / $\dot{M}_{acc}$. Asymmetries in the \eso flow are investigated while the \para jet is much more symmetric. The density, temperature, and therefore origin of the gas traced by the Balmer lines are investigated from the Balmer decrements and results suggest an origin in a jet for \eso while for \para the temperature and density are consistent with an accretion flow. $\dot{M}_{acc}$ is estimated from the luminosity of various accretion tracers. For both targets, new luminosity relationships and a re-evaluation of the effect of reddening and grey extinction (due to the edge-on disks) allows for substantial improvements on previous estimates of $\dot{M}_{acc}$. It is found that log($\dot{M}_{acc}$) = -9.15 $\pm$ 0.45~\Msun yr$^{-1}$ and -9.30 $\pm$ 0.27~\Msun yr$^{-1}$ for \eso and \para respectively. Additionally, the physical conditions in the jets (electron density, electron temperature, and ionisation) are probed using various line ratios and compared with previous determinations from iron lines. The results are combined with the luminosity of the [SII]$\lambda$6731 line to derive $\dot{M}_{out}$ through a calculation of the gas emissivity based on a 5-level atom model.
    03/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present VLT/X-shooter observations of a sample of 36 accreting low-mass stellar and substellar objects (YSOs) in the Lupus star-forming region, spanning a range in mass from ~0.03 to ~1.2 M⊙, but mostly with 0.1 M⊙<M⋆< 0.5 M⊙. Our aim is twofold: firstly, to analyse the relationship between excess-continuum and line emission accretion diagnostics, and, secondly, to investigate the accretion properties in terms of the physical properties of the central object. The accretion luminosity (Lacc), and in turn the accretion rate (Ṁacc), was derived by modelling the excess emission from the UV to the near-infrared as the continuum emission of a slab of hydrogen. We computed the flux and luminosity (Lline) of many emission lines of H , He , and Ca ii, observed simultaneously in the range from ~330 nm to 2500 nm. The luminosity of all the lines is well correlated with Lacc. We provide empirical relationships between Lacc and the luminosity of 39 emission lines, which have a lower dispersion than relationships previously reported in the literature. Our measurements extend the Paβ and Brγ relationships to Lacc values about two orders of magnitude lower than those reported in previous studies. We confirm that different methodologies of measuring Lacc and Ṁacc yield significantly different results: Hα line profile modelling may underestimate Ṁacc by 0.6 to 0.8 dex with respect to Ṁacc derived from continuum-excess measures. These differences may explain the probably spurious bi-modal relationships between Ṁacc and other YSOs properties reported in the literature. We derived Ṁacc in the range 2 × 10-12-4 × 10-8 M⊙ yr-1 and conclude that Ṁacc ∝ M⋆1.8(±0.2), with a dispersion lower by a factor of about 2 than in previous studies. A number of properties indicate that the physical conditions of the accreting gas are similar over more than 5 orders of magnitude in Ṁacc, confirming previous suggestions that the geometry of the accretion flow controls the rate at which the disc material accretes onto the central star. Based on observations collected at the European Souther Observatory at Paranal, under programs 084.C-0269(A), 085.C-0238(A), 086.C-0173(A), 087.C-0244(A) and 089.C-0143(A).Tables 1-4 and Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2014; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The knowledge of the photospheric parameters and the level of chromospheric activity in young pre-main sequence stars is one of the main limitations when trying to measure mass accretion rates in Class II YSOs. A detailed characterization of photospheres and chromospheric activities in low-mass, young stars without disks (late K and M type Class III YSOs) is still missing. Using VLT/X-Shooter spectra we have analyzed a sample of Class III in the Spectral Type range between K5 and M9.5. We report on the characterization of the chromospheric emission in the stars in our sample and on the implications that our work has on accurate measurements of mass accretion rates in YSOs.
    11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Building on the experience of the high-resolution community with the suite of VLT high-resolution spectrographs, which has been tremendously successful, we outline here the (science) case for a high-fidelity, high-resolution spectrograph with wide wavelength coverage at the E-ELT. Flagship science drivers include: the study of exo-planetary atmospheres with the prospect of the detection of signatures of life on rocky planets; the chemical composition of planetary debris on the surface of white dwarfs; the spectroscopic study of protoplanetary and proto-stellar disks; the extension of Galactic archaeology to the Local Group and beyond; spectroscopic studies of the evolution of galaxies with samples that, unlike now, are no longer restricted to strongly star forming and/or very massive galaxies; the unraveling of the complex roles of stellar and AGN feedback; the study of the chemical signatures imprinted by population III stars on the IGM during the epoch of reionization; the exciting possibility of paradigm-changing contributions to fundamental physics. The requirements of these science cases can be met by a stable instrument with a spectral resolution of R~100,000 and broad, simultaneous spectral coverage extending from 370nm to 2500nm. Most science cases do not require spatially resolved information, and can be pursued in seeing-limited mode, although some of them would benefit by the E-ELT diffraction limited resolution. Some multiplexing would also be beneficial for some of the science cases. (Abridged)
    10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We present X-Shooter/VLT observations of a sample of 36 accreting low-mass stellar and sub-stellar objects (YSOs) in the Lupus star forming region, spanning a range in mass from ~0.03 to ~1.2Msun, but mostly with 0.1Msun < Mstar < 0.5Msun. Our aim is twofold: firstly, analyse the relationship between excess-continuum and line emission accretion diagnostics, and, secondly, to investigate the accretion properties in terms of the physical properties of the central object. The accretion luminosity (Lacc), and from it the accretion rate (Macc), is derived by modelling the excess emission, from the UV to the near-IR, as the continuum emission of a slab of hydrogen. The flux and luminosity (Ll) of a large number of emission lines of H, He, CaII, etc., observed simultaneously in the range from ~330nm to 2500nm, were computed. The luminosity of all the lines is well correlated with Lacc. We provide empirical relationships between Lacc and the luminosity of 39 emission lines, which have a lower dispersion as compared to previous relationships in the literature. Our measurements extend the Pab and Brg relationships to Lacc values about two orders of magnitude lower than those reported in previous studies. We confirm that different methodologies to measure Lacc and Macc yield significantly different results: Ha line profile modelling may underestimate Macc by 0.6 to 0.8dex with respect to Macc derived from continuum-excess measures. Such differences may explain the likely spurious bi-modal relationships between Macc and other YSOs properties reported in the literature. We derive Macc in the range 2e-12 -- 4e-8 Msun/yr and conclude that Macc is proportional to Mstar^1.8(+/-0.2), with a dispersion lower by a factor of about 2 than in previous studies. A number of properties indicate that the physical conditions of the accreting gas are similar over more than 5 orders of magnitude in Macc.
    10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the diagnostic capabilities of the iron lines for tracing the physical conditions of the shock-excited gas in jets driven by pre-main sequence stars. We have analyzed the 300-2500 nm X-shooter spectra of two jets driven by the pre-main sequence stars ESO-Halpha 574 and Par-Lup 3-4. Both spectra are very rich in [FeII] lines over the whole spectral range; in addition, lines from [FeIII] are detected in the ESO-H\alpha 574 spectrum. NLTE codes along with codes for the ionization equilibrium are used to derive the gas excitation conditions of electron temperature and density, and fractional ionization. The iron gas-phase abundance is provided by comparing the iron lines emissivity with that of [OI] 630 nm. The [FeII] lines indicate ESO-Halpha 574 jet is, on average, colder (T_e = 9000 K), less dense (n_e = 2 10^4 cm^-3) and more ionized (x_e = 0.7) than the Par-Lup 3-4 jet (T_e = 13000 K, n_e = 6 10^4 cm^-3, x_e < 0.4), even if the existence of a higher density component (n_e = 2 10^5 cm^-3) is probed by the [FeIII] and [FeII] ultra-violet lines. Theoretical models suggest that the shock at work in ESO-Halpha 574 is faster and likely more energetic than the Par-Lup 3-4 shock. This latter feature is confirmed by the high percentage of gas-phase iron measured in ESO-Halpha 574 (50-60% of its solar abundance in comparison with less than 30% in Par-Lup 3-4), which testifies that the ESO-Halpha 574 shock is powerful enough to partially destroy the dust present inside the jet. This work demonstrates that a multiline Fe analysis can be effectively used to probe the excitation and ionization conditions of the gas in a jet without any assumption on ionic abundances. The main limitation on the diagnostics resides in the large uncertainties of the atomic data, which, however, can be overcome through a statistical approach involving many lines.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2013; 778(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    B. Stelzer, J. M. Alcala, E. Whelan, A. Scholz
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    ABSTRACT: We discuss accretion and outflow properties of three very low-mass young stellar objects based on broad-band mid-resolution X-Shooter/VLT spectra. Our targets (FU TauA, 2M 1207-39, and Par-Lup3-4) have spectral types between M5 and M8, ages between 1 Myr and ~10 Myr, and are known to be accreting from previous studies. The final objective of our project is the determination of mass outflow to accretion rate for objects near or within the substellar regime as a probe for the T Tauri phase of brown dwarfs and the investigation of variability in the accretion and outflow processes.
    09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We analyzed X-Shooter/VLT spectra of 24 ClassIII sources from three nearby star-forming regions (sigmaOrionis, LupusIII, and TWHya). We determined the effective temperature, surface gravity, rotational velocity, and radial velocity by comparing the observed spectra with synthetic BT-Settl model spectra. We investigated in detail the emission lines emerging from the stellar chromospheres and combined these data with archival X-ray data to allow for a comparison between chromospheric and coronal emissions. Both X-ray and Halpha luminosity as measured in terms of the bolometric luminosity are independent of the effective temperature for early-M stars but decline toward the end of the spectral M sequence. For the saturated early-M stars the average emission level is almost one dex higher for X-rays than for Halpha: log(L_x/L_bol) = -2.85 +- 0.36 vs. log(L_Halpha/L_bol) = -3.72 +- 0.21. When all chromospheric emission lines (including the Balmer series up to H11, CaII HK, the CaII infrared triplet, and several HeI lines) are summed up the coronal flux still dominates that of the chromosphere, typically by a factor 2-5. Flux-flux relations between activity diagnostics that probe different atmospheric layers (from the lower chromosphere to the corona) separate our sample of active pre-main sequence stars from the bulk of field M dwarfs studied in the literature. Flux ratios between individual optical emission lines show a smooth dependence on the effective temperature. The Balmer decrements can roughly be reproduced by an NLTE radiative transfer model devised for another young star of similar age. Future, more complete chromospheric model grids can be tested against this data set.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 08/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    B. Stelzer, J. M. Alcala, A. Frasca
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    ABSTRACT: We present broad-band mid-resolution X-Shooter/VLT spectra for four brown dwarfs of the TW Hya association. Our targets comprise substellar analogs representing the different evolutionary phases in young stellar evolution: For the two diskless brown dwarfs, TWA-26 and TWA-29, we determine the stellar parameters and we study their chromospheric emission line spectrum. For the two accreting brown dwarfs, TWA-27 and TWA-28, we estimate the mass accretion rates from empirical correlations between emission line luminosities and the accretion luminosity.
    07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We present the VLT/X-Shooter spectrum of two jets from young protostars of different luminosity and mass, ESO-Halpha 574 and Par-Lup 3-4. In the covered spectral range (350-2500 nm) we detected more than 100 [FeII] and [FeIII] lines, which are used to precisely probe the key physical parameters of the gas (electron density and temperature, ionization degree, visual extinction). These quantities have been compared with shock-model predictions, which suggest that only the higher luminosity source (ESO-Ha 574) is able to drive a high-velocity and dissociative shock. The diagnostic capability of Iron, proven on the presented objects, represents a unique tool for the following reasons: 1) the large number of lines in the uv-infrared range makes possible to trace the physical conditions in a very large range of the parameter space; 2) at variance with the diagnostic commonly performed with other species, such as Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Sulphur, no assumption on the relative abundance is needed, since all the parameters are derived from line ratios of the same species; 3) in the unperturbed ISM, Iron is locked on the grain surfaces, while it is released in gas-phase if gas-grain or grain-grain collisions occur within a shock. Therefore the Iron abundance (derivable from ratios of Iron lines with those of other volatile species) is a direct probe of the presence of dust in the jet beam, an information crucial to understand whether jets originate close to the star or in the circumstellar disk.
    07/2013;
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    Dataset: Qatar-1 lc
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    Dataset: Qatar-1 lc
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    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 04/2013; 355:49028.
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    ABSTRACT: A long-term multi-purpose observational programme has started with HARPS-N@TNG aimed to characterise the global architectural properties of exoplanetary systems. In this first paper we fully characterise the transiting system Qatar-1. We exploit HARPS-N high-precision radial velocity measurements obtained during a transit to measure the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect in the Qatar-1 system, and out-of-transit measurements to redetermine the spectroscopic orbit. New photometric transit light-curves are analysed and a spectroscopic characterisation of the host star atmospheric parameters is performed based on various methods (line equivalent width ratios, spectral synthesis, spectral energy distribution). We achieved a significant improvement in the accuracy of the orbital parameters and derived the spin-orbit alignment of the system; this information, combined with the spectroscopic determination of the host star properties, allows us to derive the fundamental physical parameters for star and planet (masses and radii). The orbital solution for the Qatar-1 system is consistent with a circular orbit and the system presents a sky-projected obliquity of lambda = -8.4+-7.1 deg. The planet, with a mass of 1.33+-0.05 M_J, is found to be significantly more massive than previously reported. The host star is confirmed to be metal-rich ([Fe/H]= 0.20+-0.10) and slowly rotating (vsinI = 1.7+-0.3 km/s), though moderately active, as indicated by strong chromospheric emission in the Ca II H&K line cores (logR'_HK about -4.60). The system is well aligned and fits well within the general lambda vs Teff trend. We definitely rule out any significant orbital eccentricity. The evolutionary status of the system is inferred based on gyrochronology, and the present orbital configuration and timescale for orbital decay are discussed in terms of star-planet tidal interactions.
    03/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The lack of knowledge of photospheric parameters and the level of chromospheric activity in young low-mass pre-main sequence stars introduces uncertainties when measuring mass accretion rates in accreting (Class II) Young Stellar Objects. A detailed investigation of the effect of chromospheric emission on the estimates of mass accretion rate in young low-mass stars is still missing. This can be undertaken using samples of young diskless (Class III) K and M-type stars. Aims. Our goal is to measure the chromospheric activity of Class III pre main sequence stars to determine its effect on the estimates of accretion luminosity (Lacc) and mass accretion rate (Macc) in young stellar objects with disks. Methods. Using VLT/X-Shooter spectra we have analyzed a sample of 24 non-accreting young stellar objects of spectral type between K5 and M9.5. We identify the main emission lines normally used as tracers of accretion in Class II objects, and we determine their fluxes in order to estimate the contribution of the chromospheric activity to the line luminosity. Results. We have used the relationships between line luminosity and accretion luminosity derived in the literature for Class II objects to evaluate the impact of chromospheric activity on the accretion rate measurements. We find that the typical chromospheric activity would bias the derived accretion luminosity by Lacc,noise< 10-3Lsun, with a strong dependence with the Teff of the objects. The noise on Macc depends on stellar mass and age, and the typical values of log(Macc,noise) range between -9.2 to -11.6Msun/yr. Conclusions. Values of Lacc< 10-3Lsun obtained in accreting low-mass pre main sequence stars through line luminosity should be treated with caution as the line emission may be dominated by the contribution of chromospheric activity.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

683 Citations
380.60 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1999–2014
    • The Astronomical Observatory of Brera
      Merate, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2004–2012
    • Astronomical Observatory of Trieste
      Trst, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • 2011
    • Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
      Dublin, Leinster, Ireland
    • Università degli Studi di Palermo
      Palermo, Sicily, Italy
  • 2006
    • University of Catania
      Catania, Sicily, Italy
    • National Institute of Astrophysics
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2005
    • Università degli Studi di Salerno
      Fisciano, Campania, Italy