Discovery of an extended G giant chromosphere in the 2019 eclipse of γ Per

Sharon Diamant*, Klaus-Peter Schröder, Dennis Jack, Faiber Rosas-Portilla, Malcolm Fridlund, Jürgen Schmitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The November 2019 eclipse of γ Per was a rare opportunity to seek evidence for a chromosphere of the G8 giant, hitherto suspected but not detected. Twenty-nine years after the only other observed eclipse, we aim to find chromospheric absorption in the strong Caa II H&K lines, and to determine its column densities and scale height. Using the Telescopio Internacional de Guanajuato Robótico-Espectroscópico (TIGRE) in Guanajuato (central Mexico) before, during and after the 8 days of total eclipse, we obtained good S/N spectra of the G8 giant alone and composite spectra of the partial phases, near eclipse and far from eclipse. In the near UV of the Caa II H&K and HÏμ lines, the G giant spectrum that was adequately scaled was subtracted from the composite spectra in partial phases, near and far from eclipse, to obtain the A3 companion spectra with and without traces of chromospheric absorption. In addition, we used PHOENIX full non-local thermodynamic equilibrium model atmospheres on the blue A star spectrum, iSpec spectral analysis of the red G giant spectrum, and evolution tracks to study both components of γ Per. For the first time, we present evidence for this rare type of a not very extended G giant chromosphere, reaching out about half of an A-star radius (~1.5 Gm) with a scale height of only 0.17 Gm. By its location in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, the γ Per G8 giant is very close to the onset of more extended chromospheres. Furthermore, we show that this giant has a rather inactive chromosphere, and a recent 5 ksec XMM pointing reveals only a very faint, low-energy corona. While the γ Per primary has a mass of ~3.6 M', and its A3 companion has one of ~2.4 M', the latter is too cool (8400 ± 300 K), which is too evolved on the main sequence to be the same age as the primary. The high eccentricity of the 5329.08 days long-period orbit may therefore be reminiscent of a rare capture event. Using the eclipse method, we resolve a pivotal case of a G giant chromosphere, which seems to represent a low-gravity analogue of the inactive Sun. A systematic change of giant chromospheric extent by Hertzsprung-Russell diagram position is confirmed. Compared to the solar chromosphere, the density scale height increases with gravity by É¡'1.5.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA162
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries: eclipsing
  • Binaries: spectroscopic
  • Stars: chromospheres
  • Supergiants


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