Using combined data from a trio of orbiting X-ray telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Japan-led Suzaku satellite, astronomers have obtained a rare glimpse of the powerful magnetic fields that drive torrents of gas into the stellar surface, where they heat large areas to millions of degrees. X-rays emitted by these hot spots betray the newborn star's rapid rotation, showing that it is spinning so quickly it is on the verge of breaking up.
V1647's agnetic fields and intense X-ray hot spots thousands of times hotter than the rest of the star, are thought to be the footprints of streams that transfer gas from a disk that still surrounds the young star. Scientists think that magnetic reconnection events--the energy source for outbursts from our own sun--channel and drive the gas flows. The star, which spins once in about a day, rotates faster than the disk, and constantly winds up the magnetic fields, which release a great deal of energy when they snap back into lower-energy states. This protostar's X-ray variations are giving astronomers a rare glimpse of energetic phenomena accompanying the "toddler" phase of a low-mass star.*The team found strong similarities among 11 separate X-ray light curves based on data from Chandra, Suzaku and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellites. V1647 Ori is among the youngest stars whose spin rates have been determined using an X-ray-based technique.
The Daily Galaxy via the Chandra X-Ray Observatory