The solar wind in time: a change in the behaviour of older winds? [SSA]

In the present paper, we model the wind of solar analogues at different ages to investigate the evolution of the solar wind. Recently, it has been suggested that winds of solar type stars might undergo a change in properties at old ages, whereby stars older than the Sun would be less efficient in carrying away angular momentum than what was traditionally believed. Adding to this, recent observations suggest that old solar-type stars show a break in coronal properties, with a steeper decay in X-ray luminosities and temperatures at older ages. We use these X-ray observations to constrain the thermal acceleration of winds of solar analogues. Our sample is based on the stars from the `Sun in time’ project with ages between 120-7000 Myr. The break in X-ray properties leads to a break in wind mass-loss rates ($\dot{M}$) at roughly 2 Gyr, with $\dot{M}$ (t < 2 Gyr) $\propto t^{-0.74}$ and $\dot{M}$ (t > 2 Gyr) $\propto$ $t^{-3.9}$. This steep decay in $\dot{M}$ at older ages could be the reason why older stars are less efficient at carrying away angular momentum, which would explain the anomalously rapid rotation observed in older stars. We also show that none of the stars in our sample would have winds dense enough to produce thermal emission above 1-2 GHz, explaining why their radio emissions have not yet been detected. Combining our models with dynamo evolution models for the magnetic field of the Earth we find that, at early ages ($\approx$100 Myr) our Earth had a magnetosphere that was 3 or more times smaller than its current size.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Fionnagain and A. Vidotto
Wed, 14 Feb 18

Comments: 12 pages, 6 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS (2018)