A confined dynamo: Magnetic activity of the K-dwarf component in the pre-cataclysmic binary system V471 Tauri
Context. Late-type stars in close binary systems can exhibit strong magnetic activity owing to rapid rotation supported by tidal locking. On the other hand, tidal coupling may suppress the differential rotation which is a key ingredient of the magnetic dynamo.
Aims: We studied the red dwarf component in the eclipsing binary system V471 Tau in order to unravel the relations between the different activity layers, from the stellar surface through the chromosphere up to the corona. Our aim is to study how the magnetic dynamo in the late-type component is affected by the close white dwarf companion.
Methods: We used space photometry, high-resolution spectroscopy, and X-ray observations from different space instruments to explore the main characteristics of magnetic activity. We applied a light curve synthesis program to extract the eclipsing binary model and to analyze the residual light variations. Photometric periods were obtained using a Fourier-based period search code. We searched for flares by applying an automated flare detection code. Spectral synthesis was used to derive or specify some of the astrophysical parameters. Doppler imaging was used to reconstruct surface temperature maps, which were cross-correlated to derive surface differential rotation. We applied different conversion techniques to make it possible to compare the X-ray emissions obtained from different space instruments.
Results: From the K2 photometry we found that 5-10 per cent of the apparent surface of the red dwarf is covered by cool starspots. From seasonal photometric period changes we estimated a weak differential rotation. From the flare activity we derived a cumulative flare frequency diagram which suggests that frequent flaring could have a significant role in heating the corona. Using high-resolution spectroscopy we reconstructed four Doppler images for different epochs which reveal an active longitude, that is, a permanent dominant spot facing the white dwarf. From short term changes in the consecutive Doppler images we derived a weak solar-type surface differential rotation with αDR = 0.0026 shear coefficient, similar to that provided by photometry. The long-term evolution of X-ray luminosity reveals a possible activity cycle length of ≈12.7 yr, traces of which were also discovered in the Hα spectra.
Conclusions: We conclude that the magnetic activity of the red dwarf component in V471 Tau is strongly influenced by the close white dwarf companion. We confirm the presence of a permanent dominant spot (active longitude) on the red dwarf facing the white dwarf. The weak differential rotation of the red dwarf is very likely the result of tidal confinement by the companion. We find that the periodic appearance of the inter-binary Hα emission from the vicinity of the inner Lagrangian point is correlated with the activity cycle.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- June 2021
- stars: activity;
- binaries: eclipsing;
- stars: flare;
- stars: late-type;
- stars: individual: V471 Tau;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- 21 pages, 18 figures, 5 tables, submitted to Astronomy and Astrophysics