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Constraints on the Spindown of Fully Convective M Dwarfs Using Wide Field Binaries

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title> jats:pM dwarfs remain active over longer timescales than their Sunlike counterparts, with potentially devastating implications for the atmospheres of their planets. However, the age at which fully convective M dwarfs transition from active and rapidly rotating to quiescent and slowly rotating is poorly understood, as these stars remain rapidly rotating in the oldest clusters that are near enough for a large sample of low-mass M dwarfs to be studied. To constrain the spindown of these low-mass stars, we measure photometric rotation periods for field M dwarfs in wide binary systems, primarily using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and MEarth. Our analysis includes M–M pairs, which are coeval but of unknown age, as well as M dwarfs with white dwarf or Sunlike primaries, for which we can estimate ages using techniques like white-dwarf cooling curves, gyrochronology, and lithium abundance. We find that the epoch of spindown is strongly dependent on mass. Fully convective M dwarfs initially spin down slowly, with the population of 0.2–0.3 jats:italicM</jats:italic> jats:sub⊙</jats:sub> rapid rotators evolving from jats:italicP</jats:italic> jats:subrot</jats:sub> < 2 days at 600 Myr to 2 < jats:italicP</jats:italic> jats:subrot</jats:sub> < 10 days at 1–3 Gyr before rapidly spinning down to long rotation periods at older ages. However, we also identify some variability in the spindown of fully convective M dwarfs, with a small number of stars having substantially spun down by 600 Myr. These observations are consistent with models of magnetic morphology-driven spindown, where angular momentum loss is initially inefficient until changes in the magnetic field allow spindown to progress rapidly.</jats:p>



5101 Astronomical Sciences, 51 Physical Sciences

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American Astronomical Society
Gouvernement du Canada ∣ Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (PGSD3-557379-2021)
John Templeton Foundation (JTF) (60862)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (80NSSC18K0476)