X-ray emission from magnetic massive stars

Yaël Nazé, Véronique Petit, Melanie Rinbrand, David Cohen, Stan Owocki, Asif Ud-Doula, Gregg A. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Magnetically confined winds of early-type stars are expected to be sources of bright and hard X-rays. To clarify the systematics of the observed X-ray properties, we have analyzed a large series of Chandra and XMM-Newton observations, corresponding to all available exposures of known massive magnetic stars (over 100 exposures covering 60% of stars compiled in the catalog of Petit et al.). We show that the X-ray luminosity is strongly correlated with the stellar wind mass-loss rate, with a power-law form that is slightly steeper than linear for the majority of the less luminous, lower- B stars and flattens for the more luminous, higher- O stars. As the winds are radiatively driven, these scalings can be equivalently written as relations with the bolometric luminosity. The observed X-ray luminosities, and their trend with mass-loss rates, are well reproduced by new MHD models, although a few overluminous stars (mostly rapidly rotating objects) exist. No relation is found between other X-ray properties (plasma temperature, absorption) and stellar or magnetic parameters, contrary to expectations (e.g., higher temperature for stronger mass-loss rate). This suggests that the main driver for the plasma properties is different from the main determinant of the X-ray luminosity. Finally, variations of the X-ray hardnesses and luminosities, in phase with the stellar rotation period, are detected for some objects and they suggest that some temperature stratification exists in massive stars' magnetospheres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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