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Journal Article

Evidence of New Magnetic Transitions in Late-type Dwarfs from Gaia DR2


Spada,  Federico
Department Solar and Stellar Interiors, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Lanzafame, A. C., Distefano, E., Barnes, S. A., & Spada, F. (2019). Evidence of New Magnetic Transitions in Late-type Dwarfs from Gaia DR2. The Astrophysical Journal, 877(2): 157. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab1aa2.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-67E3-6
The second Gaia data release contains the identification of 147,535 low-mass ($\lesssim 1.4\,{M}_{\odot }$) rotational modulation variable candidates on (or close to) the main sequence, together with their rotation period and modulation amplitude. The richness, the period and amplitude range, and the photometric precision of this sample make it possible to unveil, for the first time, signatures of different surface inhomogeneity regimes in the amplitude–period density diagram. The modulation amplitude distribution shows a clear bimodality, with an evident gap at periods P lesssim 2 days. The low-amplitude branch, in turn, shows a period bimodality with a main clustering at periods P ≈ 5–10 days and a secondary clustering of ultra-fast rotators at P lesssim 0.5 day. The amplitude–period multimodality is correlated with the position in the period–absolute magnitude (or period–color) diagram, with the low- and high-amplitude stars occupying different preferential locations. Here we argue that such a multimodality provides further evidence of the existence of different regimes of surface inhomogeneities in young and middle-age low-mass stars and we lay out possible scenarios for their evolution, which manifestly include rapid transitions from one regime to another. In particular, the data indicate that stars spinning up close to breakup velocity undergo a very rapid change in their surface inhomogeneities configuration, which is revealed here for the first time. The multimodality can be exploited to identify field stars of age ~100–600 Myr belonging to the slow-rotator low-amplitude sequence, for which age can be estimated from the rotation period via gyrochronology relationships.