Drake, Jeremy J., Braithwaite, Jonathan, Kashyap, Vinay, Günther, H. Moritz, and Wright, Nicholas J. 2014. "Burn Out or Fade Away? On the X-Ray and Magnetic Death of Intermediate Mass Stars." The Astrophysical Journal 786:136. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/786/2/136
The nature of the mechanisms apparently driving X-rays from intermediate mass stars lacking strong convection zones or massive winds remains poorly understood, and the possible role of hidden, lower mass close companions is still unclear. A 20 ks Chandra HRC-I observation of HR 4796A, an 8 Myr old main sequence A0 star devoid of close stellar companions, has been used to search for a signature or remnant of magnetic activity from the Herbig Ae phase. X-rays were not detected and the X-ray luminosity upper limit was LX27 erg s-1. The result is discussed in the context of various scenarios for generating magnetic activity, including rotational shear and subsurface convection. A dynamo driven by natal differential rotation is unlikely to produce observable X rays, chiefly because of the difficulty in getting the dissipated energy up to the surface of the star. A subsurface convection layer produced by the ionization of helium could host a dynamo that should be effective throughout the main sequence but can only produce X-ray luminosities of the order 1025 erg s-1. This luminosity lies only moderately below the current detection limit for Vega. Our study supports the idea that X-ray production in Herbig Ae/Be stars is linked largely to the accretion process rather than the properties of the underlying star, and that early A stars generally decline in X-ray luminosity at least 100,000 fold in only a few million years.