The stellar wind cycles and planetary radio emission of the τ Boo system

Aline Vidotto, Rim Fares, Moira Mary Jardine, J.-F. Donati, M. Opher, C. Moutou, C. Catala, T. I. Gombosi

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Tau Boo is an intriguing planet-host star that is believed to undergo magnetic cycles similar to the Sun, but with a duration that is about one order of magnitude smaller than that of the solar cycle. With the use of observationally derived surface magnetic field maps, we simulate the magnetic stellar wind of Tau Boo by means of three-dimensional MHD numerical simulations. As the properties of the stellar wind depend on the particular characteristics of the stellar magnetic field, we show that the wind varies during the observed epochs of the cycle. Although the mass loss-rates we find (~2.7×10-12 Msun/yr-1) vary less than 3 per cent during the observed epochs of the cycle, our derived angular momentum loss-rates vary from 1.1 to 2.2×1032erg. The spin-down times associated to magnetic braking range between 39 and 78Gyr. We also compute the emission measure from the (quiescent) closed corona and show that it remains approximately constant through these epochs at a value of ~1050.6 cm-3. This suggests that a magnetic cycle of Tau Boo may not be detected by X-ray observations. We further investigate the interaction between the stellar wind and the planet by estimating radio emission from the hot-Jupiter that orbits at 0.0462 au from Tau Boo. By adopting reasonable hypotheses, we show that, for a planet with a magnetic field similar to Jupiter (~14G at the pole), the radio flux is estimated to be about 0.5-1 mJy, occurring at a frequency of 34MHz. If the planet is less magnetised (field strengths roughly Earths ionospheric cutoff. According to our estimates, if the planet is more magnetised than that and provided the emission beam crosses the observer line-of-sight, detection of radio emission from Tau Boo b is only possible by ground-based instruments with a noise level of ≤ 1 mJy, operating at low frequencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3285-3298
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date18 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2012


  • MHD
  • Methods: Numerical
  • Stars: individual: Tau Bootis
  • Stars: magnetic field
  • Stars: winds, outflows
  • Radio continuum: planetary systems


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