Large-scale $\vec \alpha\mathsf{^2}$-dynamo in low-mass stars and brown dwarfs

G. Chabrier, M. Küker
2006 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
We develop a model based on 3D mean-field MHD for the generation of large scale magnetic fields in fully convective objects like low-mass stars, brown dwarfs and possibly gaseous planets. The dynamo process is of alpha^2 type and thus differs from the shell-dynamo at work in more massive stars.The alpha^2 dynamo becomes supercritical for Rossby numbers Ro\la 10. It generates a large-scale, non-axisymmetric, steady field that is symmetric with respect to the equatorial plane. Saturation of the
more » ... Saturation of the alpha^2-generated field at the equipartition yields strengths of several kGauss, in agreement with observations of active M dwarfs, and provides a qualitative explanation for the observed activity saturation in late M stars. For brown dwarfs with a conductive core, as occurs at the center of the most massive and oldest of these objects, we have also studied an alpha^2-Omega dynamo, i.e. the effect of differential rotation. In this case the field is predominantly toroidal, axisymmetric and oscillatory, like the solar field. The topology of the field in the fully convective objects exhibits a high order multipole character that differs from the aligned dipole field generated by the alpha-Omega dynamo. The strong reduction of the dipolar component due to the field non-axisymmetry should considerably reduce the Alfven radius and thus the efficiency of magnetic braking, providing an appealing explanation for the decreasing angular momentum loss rate observed in low-mass stars and brown dwarfs. This may have also implications for cataclysmic variables below the period gap. In spite of this large-scale field, the decreasing conductivity in the dominantly neutral atmosphere of these objects prevents the current generation necessary to support a chromosphere and thus activity. (Abridged)
doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20042475 fatcat:7vidgoae5ram7o3zlxhy3doolu