Long-term magnetic activity of a sample of M-dwarf stars from the HARPS program

J. Gomes da Silva, N. C. Santos, X. Bonfils, X. Delfosse, T. Forveille, S. Udry, X. Dumusque, C. Lovis
2012 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
Due to their low mass and luminosity, M dwarfs are ideal targets if one hopes to find low-mass planets similar to Earth by using the radial velocity (RV) method. However, stellar magnetic cycles could add noise or even mimic the RV signal of a long-period companion. Following our previous work that studied the correlation between activity cycles and long-term RV variations for K dwarfs we now expand that research to the lower-end of the main sequence. Our objective is to detect any correlations
more » ... between long-term activity variations and the observed RV of a sample of M dwarfs. We used a sample of 27 M-dwarfs with a median observational timespan of 5.9 years. The cross-correlation function (CCF) with its parameters RV, bisector inverse slope (BIS), full-width-at-half- maximum (FWHM) and contrast have been computed from the HARPS spectrum. The activity index have been derived using the Na I D doublet. These parameters were compared with the activity level of the stars to search for correlations. We detected RV variations up to ~5 m/s that we can attribute to activity cycle effects. However, only 36% of the stars with long-term activity variability appear to have their RV affected by magnetic cycles, on the typical timescale of ~6 years. Therefore, we suggest a careful analysis of activity data when searching for extrasolar planets using long-timespan RV data.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201118598 fatcat:nqzxf5vdcbeepggei4divtgtpe