The quest for stellar coronal mass ejections in late-type stars
I. Investigating Balmer-line asymmetries of single stars in Virtual Observatory data
Konkoly Observatory, MTA CSFK,
Konkoly Thege M. út
2 Institute of Physics/IGAM, University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 5, 8010 Graz, Austria
3 Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Schmiedlstraße 6, 8042 Graz, Austria
4 Department of Astronomy, Eötvös University, Pf. 32, 1518 Budapest, Hungary
5 Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
6 Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
7 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, UK
8 LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Meudon, France
Accepted: 9 January 2019
Context. Flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can have deleterious effects on their surroundings: they can erode or completely destroy atmospheres of orbiting planets over time and also have high importance in stellar evolution. Most of the CME detections in the literature are single events found serendipitously sparse for statistical investigation.
Aims. We aimed to gather a large amount of spectral data of M-dwarfs to drastically increase the number of known events to make statistical analysis possible in order to study the properties of potential stellar CMEs.
Methods. Using archival spectral data we investigated asymmetric features of Balmer-lines, which could indicate the Doppler-signature of ejected material.
Results. Of more than 5500 spectra we find 478 that have line asymmetries – including nine larger events, in terms of velocity and mass – on 25 objects, with 1.2–19.6 events per day on objects with line asymmetries. Most events are connected with enhanced peaks of Balmer-lines, indicating that these are connected to flares similar to solar events. In most cases the detected speed does not reach surface escape velocity: the typical observed maximum velocities are on the order of 100–300 km s−1, while the typical masses of the ejecta were on the order of 1015−1018 g. Statistical analysis of the events suggests that these events are more frequent on cooler stars with stronger chromospheric activity.
Conclusions. If the detected events correspond to CMEs, the detected maximum velocities are lower than those observed on the Sun, while event rates were somewhat lower than we could expect from the solar case. If the velocities are not distorted significantly due to a projection effect, these findings may support the idea that most of the coronal mass ejections could be suppressed by a strong magnetic field. Alternatively, it is possible that we can observe only an early low-coronal phase of the events before being accelerated at higher altitudes. Our findings could indicate that later-type, active dwarfs could be a safer environment for exoplanetary systems CME-wise than previously thought, and atmosphere loss due to radiation effects would play a stronger role in exoplanetary atmosphere evolution than CMEs.
Key words: techniques: spectroscopic / astronomical databases: miscellaneous / stars: activity / stars: flare / stars: late-type / stars: low-mass
© ESO 2019