X-Ray, Near-ultraviolet, and Optical Flares Produced by Colliding Magnetospheres in the Young High-eccentricity Binary DQ Tau

Konstantin V. Getman, Ágnes Kóspál, Nicole Arulanantham, Dmitry A. Semenov, Grigorii V. Smirnov-Pinchukov, Sierk E. van Terwisga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


DQ Tau is a unique young high-eccentricity binary system that exhibits regular magnetic reconnection flares and pulsed accretion near periastron. We conducted NuSTAR, Swift, and Chandra observations during the 2022 July 30 periastron to characterize X-ray, near-ultraviolet (NUV), and optical flaring emissions. Our findings confirm the presence of X-ray superflares accompanied by substantial NUV and optical flares, consistent with previous discoveries of periastron flares in 2010 and 2021. These observations, supported by new evidence, strongly establish the magnetosphere collision mechanism as the primary driver of magnetic energy release during DQ Tau’s periastron flares. The energetics of the observed X-ray superflares remain consistent across the three periastra, indicating recurring energy sources during each passage, surpassing the capabilities of single stars. The observed flaring across multiple bands supports the Adams et al. model for magnetosphere interaction in eccentric binaries. Evidence from modeling and past and current observations suggests that both the millimeter/X-ray periastron flares and, tentatively, the magnetic-reconnection-related components of the optical/NUV emissions conform to the classical solar/stellar nonthermal thick-target model, except for the distinctive magnetic energy source. However, our NuSTAR observations suffered from high background levels, hindering the detection of anticipated nonthermal hard X-rays. Furthermore, we report the serendipitous discovery of X-ray superflares occurring away from periastron, potentially associated with interacting magnetospheres. The current study is part of a broader multiwavelength campaign, which plans to investigate the influence of DQ Tau’s stellar radiation on gas-phase ion chemistry within its circumbinary disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this