Characterizing the X-Ray Emission of Intermediate-mass Pre-main-sequence Stars

Evan H. Nunez, Matthew S. Povich, Breanna A. Binder, Leisa K. Townsley, Patrick S. Broos

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5 Scopus citations


We use X-ray and infrared observations to study the properties of three classes of young stars in the Carina Nebula: intermediate-mass (2-5 M o˙) pre-main-sequence stars (IMPS; i.e., intermediate-mass T Tauri stars), late-B and A stars on the zero-age main sequence (AB), and lower-mass T Tauri stars (TTS). We divide our sources among these three subclassifications and further identify disk-bearing young stellar objects versus diskless sources with no detectable infrared (IR) excess emission using IR (1-8 μm) spectral energy distribution modeling. We then perform X-ray spectral fitting to determine the hydrogen-absorbing column density (N H ), absorption-corrected X-ray luminosity (L X ), and coronal plasma temperature (kT) for each source. We find that the X-ray spectra of both IMPS and TTS are characterized by similar kT and N H , and on average L X /L bol ∼ 4 × 10-4. IMPS are systematically more luminous in X-rays (by ∼0.3 dex) than all other subclassifications, with median L X = 2.5 × 1031 erg s-1, while AB stars of similar masses have X-ray emission consistent with TTS companions. These lines of evidence converge on a magnetocoronal flaring source for IMPS X-ray emission, a scaled-up version of the TTS emission mechanism. IMPS therefore provide powerful probes of isochronal ages for the first ∼10 Myr in the evolution of a massive stellar population, because their intrinsic, coronal X-ray emission decays rapidly after they commence evolving along radiative tracks. We suggest that the most luminous (in both X-rays and IR) IMPS could be used to place empirical constraints on the location of the intermediate-mass stellar birth line.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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