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Observational Limits on the Spin-down Torque of Accretion Powered Stellar Winds

Abstract : The rotation period of classical T Tauri stars (CTTS) represents a longstanding puzzle. While young low-mass stars show a wide range of rotation periods, many CTTS are slow rotators, spinning at a small fraction of breakup, and their rotation period does not seem to shorten, despite the fact that they are actively accreting and contracting. Matt & Pudritz proposed that the spin-down torque of a stellar wind powered by a fraction of the accretion energy would be strong enough to balance the spin-up torque due to accretion. Since this model establishes a direct relation between accretion and ejection, the observable stellar parameters (mass, radius, rotation period, magnetic field) and the accretion diagnostics (accretion shock luminosity) can be used to constrain the wind characteristics. In particular, since the accretion energy powers both the stellar wind and the shock emission, we show in this Letter how the accretion shock luminosity L UV can provide upper limits to the spin-down efficiency of the stellar wind. It is found that luminous sources with L UV >= 0.1 L sun and typical dipolar field components <1 kG do not allow spin equilibrium solutions. Lower luminosity stars (L UV Lt 0.1 L sun) are compatible with a zero-torque condition, but the corresponding stellar winds are still very demanding in terms of mass and energy flux. We therefore conclude that accretion powered stellar winds are unlikely to be the sole mechanism to provide an efficient spin-down torque for accreting CTTS.
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Contributor : Nathalie POTHIER Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 5:04:34 PM
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Claudio Zanni, Jonathan Ferreira. Observational Limits on the Spin-down Torque of Accretion Powered Stellar Winds. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2011, 727, ⟨10.1088/2041-8205/727/1/L22⟩. ⟨insu-03625211⟩



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