EDP Sciences
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Volume 489, Number 3, October III 2008
Page(s) L45 - L48
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200810491
Published online 11 September 2008

A&A 489, L45-L48 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200810491


The moderate magnetic field of the flare star Proxima Centauri

A. Reiners1 and G. Basri2

1  Universität Göttingen, Institut für Astrophysik, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
    e-mail: Ansgar.Reiners@phys.uni-goettingen.de
2  Astronomy Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
    e-mail: basri@berkeley.edu

Received 1 July 2008 / Accepted 21 August 2008

We report moderate magnetic flux of 450 G < Bf < 750 G (3$\sigma$) on the nearby M 5.5 flare star Proxima Centauri. A high resolution UVES spectrum was used to measure magnetic flux from Zeeman broadening in absorption lines of molecular FeH around 1 $\mu$m. The magnetic flux we find is relatively weak compared with classical strong flare stars, but so are Proxima's flaring rates and actual emission levels. We compare what is known about the rotation rate, Rossby number, and activity levels in this star to relations between these quantities that are being developed more generally for M dwarfs. We conclude that the magnetic flux is higher than the best estimates of the Rossby number from period measurements. On the other hand, the activity levels of Proxima Centauri are at the high end of what could be expected based on the measured field, but not so high as to exceed the natural scatter in these relations (other stars lie along this high envelope as well).

Key words: stars: activity -- stars: late-type -- stars: individual: Proxima Centauri -- stars: magnetic fields -- stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs

© ESO 2008