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Spatially dependent photometric activity of M dwarfs in the solar cylinder

Chang, Seo-Won, Wolf, Christian & Onken, Christopher A., 2022, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 517, 2842 | View on ADS (2022MNRAS.517.2842C)


We study the relationship between Galactic location (R, Z) and photometric activity for 3.6 million M dwarf stars within 1 kpc of the Sun. For this purpose, we identify 906 unique flare events as a proxy for magnetic activity from the SkyMapper Southern Survey Data Release 3. We adopt vertical distance |Z| from the Galactic disc as a proxy for age and confirm a strong trend of flaring fraction decreasing with growing stellar age. Among M dwarfs within 50 pc of the Sun, we find a flaring fraction of one in 1500, independent of spectral type from M2 to M7, suggesting that these stars are all in a flare-saturated young evolutionary stage. We find a hint of a kink in the slope of the overall flare fraction near 100 pc from the plane, where a steep decline begins; this slope change is visible for mid-type M dwarfs (M3-M5), suggesting it is not an artefact of mixing spectral type. Together with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Hα emission, this trend is additional evidence that the activity fraction of M dwarfs depends on Galactic height and activity lifetime. While there is a hint of flattening of the overall activity fraction above |Z| ≍ 500 pc, our data do not constrain this further. Within ~500 pc distance from the Sun, we find no sign of radial disc gradients in flare activity, which may only be revealed by samples covering a larger radial range.

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