Magnetic Flares in Close Binaries

  • Jan Kuijpers
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 319)

Abstract

Our present understanding of solar flares is reviewed and applied to close binaries, both with and without mass exchange, with a compact star and with both stars having convective envelopes. Although many details of the solar flare energy release are still not clear, in particular the processes of magnetic field reconnection and particle acceleration, it now appears that the global course of events in a flare is well understood and simple. In general magnetic flares arise when a dynamo is coupled electrodynamically to a magnetically dominated storage region. The dynamo converts kinetic (convection or accretion) energy into (electro)magnetic energy if the flow crossing time of the system is much less than the ohmic dissipation time. Magnetic energy can be transferred via a Poynting flux to a magnetically connected storage region. If the storage region is dynamically dominated by magnetic fields instead of by gas pressure or motion and if its Alfvén crossing time is much less than the flow crossing time, the magnetically dominated region evolves through a quasi-static series of force free fields. As the amount of stored energy becomes comparable to the energy of the original magnetic field structure before its distortion, the excess energy is released catastrophically. The release time is a number of Alfvén crossing times of the relaxing structure.

Eruptive phenomena have been observed in many close binaries, with and without compact objects. In fact various classes of close binaries satisfy the conditions for flare production and several of the observed explosions are probably magnetic flares. In these systems the dynamo is formed by the traditional convective envelope of a normal star, or the accretion disk around a normal star or compact companion, or more generally by the transferred mass as it falls in towards the companion and interacts with the magnetic field of the receiving star. The storage region is situated in the individual stellar coronae, in the common dilute envelope or in disk coronae, or in the magnetosphere of the compact object. As a particular example we show that magnetic flares occur in Low-Mass X-Ray Binaries and how they can explain the quasi-periodic oscillations (QPO) observed in X-rays.

Keywords

Neutron Star Solar Phys Solar Flare Accretion Disk Flux Tube 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Kuijpers
    • 1
  1. 1.Sterrekundig InstituutRijksuniversiteit UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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