T Tauri stars : mass accretion and X-ray emission
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I develop the first magnetospheric accretion model to take account of the observed complexity of T Tauri magnetic fields, and the influence of stellar coronae. It is now accepted that accretion onto classical T Tauri stars is controlled by the stellar magnetosphere, yet to date the majority of accretion models have assumed that the stellar magnetic field is dipolar. By considering a simple steady state accretion model with both dipolar and complex magnetic fields I find a correlation between mass accretion rate and stellar mass of the form M[dot above] proportional to M[asterisk subscript, alpha superscript], with my results consistent within observed scatter. For any particular stellar mass there can be several orders of magnitude difference in the mass accretion rate, with accretion filling factors of a few percent. I demonstrate that the field geometry has a significant effect in controlling the location and distribution of hot spots, formed on the stellar surface from the high velocity impact of accreting material. I find that hot spots are often at mid to low latitudes, in contrast to what is expected for accretion to dipolar fields, and that particularly for higher mass stars, accreting material is predominantly carried by open field lines. Material accreting onto stars with fields that have a realistic degree of complexity does so with a distribution of in-fall speeds. I have also modelled the rotational modulation of X-ray emission from T Tauri stars assuming that they have isothermal, magnetically confined coronae. By extrapolating from surface magnetograms I find that T Tauri coronae are compact and clumpy, such that rotational modulation arises from X-ray emitting regions being eclipsed as the star rotates. Emitting regions are close to the stellar surface and inhomogeneously distributed about the star. However some regions of the stellar surface, which contain wind bearing open field lines, are dark in X-rays. From simulated X-ray light curves, obtained using stellar parameters from the Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project, I calculate X-ray periods and make comparisons with optically determined rotation periods. I find that X-ray periods are typically equal to, or are half of, the optical periods. Further, I find that X-ray periods are dependent upon the stellar inclination, but that the ratio of X-ray to optical period is independent of stellar mass and radius. I also present some results that show that the largest flares detected on T Tauri stars may occur inside extended magnetic structures arising from the reconnection of open field lines within the disc. I am currently working to establish whether such large field line loops can remain closed for a long enough time to fill with plasma before being torn open by the differential rotation between the star and the disc. Finally I discuss the current limitations of the model and suggest future developments and new avenues of research.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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