Temporal variability of the wind from the star τ Boötis

the BCool Collaboration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


We present new wind models for τ Boötis (τ Boo), a hot-Jupiter-host-star whose observable magnetic cycles makes it a uniquely useful target for our goal of monitoring the temporal variability of stellar winds and their exoplanetary impacts. Using spectropolarimetric observations from May 2009 to January 2015, the most extensive information of this type yet available, to reconstruct the stellar magnetic field, we produce multiple 3D magnetohydrodynamic stellar wind models. Our results show that characteristic changes in the large-scale magnetic field as the star undergoes magnetic cycles produce changes in the wind properties, both globally and locally at the position of the orbiting planet. Whilst the mass loss rate of the star varies by only a minimal amount (4 per cent), the rates of angular momentum loss and associated spin-down time-scales are seen to vary widely (up to 140 per cent), findings consistent with and extending previous research. In addition, we find that temporal variation in the global wind is governed mainly by changes in total magnetic flux rather than changes in wind plasma properties. The magnetic pressure varies with time and location and dominates the stellar wind pressure at the planetary orbit. By assuming a Jovian planetary magnetic field for τ Boo b, we nevertheless conclude that the planetary magnetosphere can remain stable in size for all observed stellar cycle epochs, despite significant changes in the stellar field and the resulting local space weather environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1907-1915
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 21 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Individual
  • MHD-methods
  • Magnetic field-stars
  • Numerical-stars
  • Outflows
  • Winds
  • τ Boötis-stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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