The early B-type star Rho Oph A is an X-ray lighthouse [SSA]

We present the results of a 140 ks XMM-Newton observation of the B2 star $\rho$ Ophiuchi A. The star exhibited strong X-ray variability: a cusp-shaped increase of rate, similar to the one we partially observed in 2013, and a bright flare. These events are separated in time by about 104 ks, which likely correspond to the rotational period of the star (1.2 days). Time resolved spectroscopy of the X-ray spectra shows that the first event is almost only due to an increase of the plasma emission measure, while the second increase of rate is mainly due is a major flare, with temperatures in excess of 60 MK ($kT\sim5$ keV). From the analysis of its rise we infer a magnetic field of $\ge300$ G and a size of the flaring region of $\sim1.4-1.9\times10^{11}$ cm, which corresponds to $\sim25\%-30\%$ of the stellar radius. We speculate that either an intrinsic magnetism that produces a hot spot on its surface, or an unknown low mass companion are the source of such X-rays and variability. A hot spot of magnetic origin should be a stable structure over a time span of $\ge$2.5 years, and suggests an overall large scale dipolar magnetic field that produce an extended feature on the stellar surface. In the second scenario, a low mass unknown companion is the emitter of X-rays and it should orbit extremely close to the surface of the primary in a locked spin-orbit configuration, almost on the verge of collapsing onto the primary. As such, the X-ray activity of the secondary star would be enhanced by both its young age and the tight orbit like in RS Cvn systems and $\rho$ Ophiuchi would constitute an extreme system worth of further investigation.

Read this paper on arXiv…

I. Pillitteri, S. Wolk, F. Reale, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 7 figures, 2 tables, A&A accepted