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Solar-type dynamo behaviour in fully convective stars without a tachocline.

Wright, Nicholas J.; Drake, Jeremy J.

Solar-type dynamo behaviour in fully convective stars without a tachocline. Thumbnail


Jeremy J. Drake


In solar-type stars (with radiative cores and convective envelopes like our Sun), the magnetic field powers star spots, flares and other solar phenomena, as well as chromospheric and coronal emission at ultraviolet to X-ray wavelengths. The dynamo responsible for generating the field depends on the shearing of internal magnetic fields by differential rotation. The shearing has long been thought to take place in a boundary layer known as the tachocline between the radiative core and the convective envelope. Fully convective stars do not have a tachocline and their dynamo mechanism is expected to be very different, although its exact form and physical dependencies are not known. Here we report observations of four fully convective stars whose X-ray emission correlates with their rotation periods in the same way as in solar-type stars. As the X-ray activity-rotation relationship is a well-established proxy for the behaviour of the magnetic dynamo, these results imply that fully convective stars also operate a solar-type dynamo. The lack of a tachocline in fully convective stars therefore suggests that this is not a critical ingredient in the solar dynamo and supports models in which the dynamo originates throughout the convection zone.

Acceptance Date Jun 2, 2016
Publication Date Jul 27, 2016
Journal Nature
Print ISSN 1476-4687
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Pages 526 -528
Keywords stars, solar physics, astronomy
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