The coronal structure of Speedy Mic - II: Prominence masses and off-disc emission

N.J. Dunstone, Andrew Collier Cameron, J.R. Barnes, Moira Mary Jardine

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Observations of stellar prominences on young rapidly rotating stars provide unique probes of their magnetic fields out to many stellar radii. We compare two independently obtained data sets of the K3 dwarf Speedy Mic (BO Mic, HD 197890) using the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT). Taken more than a fortnight apart, they provide the first insight into the evolution of the prominence system on such a young rapidly rotating star. The largest prominences observed transiting the stellar disc are found at very similar rotational phases between the epochs. This suggests that the magnetic structures supporting the prominences retain their identity on a two to three week time-scale. By taking advantage of the high signal-to-noise ratio and large wavelength range of the VLT observations, we identify prominences as transient absorption features in all lines of the hydrogen Balmer series down to H-10. We use the ratios of the prominence equivalent widths (EWs) in these lines to determine their column densities in the first excited state of hydrogen. We determine the optical depths, finding prominences to be rather optically thick (tau approximate to 20) in the Ha line. The total hydrogen column density and thus the prominence masses are determined via observations of the Call H&K lines. We find typical masses for four of the largest prominences to be in the range 0.5-2.3 x 10(14) kg, slightly larger than giant solar prominence masses. Rotationally modulated emission is seen outside of the H alpha line. These loops of emission are shown to be caused by prominences seen off the stellar disc. We find that all of the large emission loops can be associated with prominences we see transiting the stellar disc. This, combined with the fact that many prominences appear to eclipse the off-disc emission of others, strongly suggests that the prominence system is highly flattened and likely confined to low stellar latitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1308-1320
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2006


  • line : profiles
  • stars : activity
  • circumstellar matter
  • stars : coronae
  • stars : late-type
  • STAR


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