Large-scale magnetic topologies of late M dwarfs
We present here the final results of the first spectropolarimetric survey of a small sample of active M dwarfs, aimed at providing observational constraints on dynamo action on both sides of the full-convection threshold (spectral type M4). Our two previous studies were focused on early and mid M dwarfs. The present paper examines 11 fully convective late M dwarfs (spectral types M5–M8). Tomographic imaging techniques were applied to time-series of circularly polarized profiles of six stars, in order to infer their large-scale magnetic topologies. For three other stars we could not produce such magnetic maps, because of low variability of the Stokes V signatures, but were able to derive some properties of the magnetic fields. We find two distinct categories of magnetic topologies: on the one hand strong axisymmetric dipolar fields (similar to mid M dwarfs), and on the other hand weak fields generally featuring a significant non-axisymmetric component, and sometimes a significant toroidal one. Comparison with unsigned magnetic fluxes demonstrates that the second category of magnetic fields shows less organization (less energy in the large scales), similarly to partly convective early M dwarfs. Stars in both categories have similar stellar parameters, our data do not evidence a separation between these two categories in the mass–rotation plane. We also report marginal detection of a large-scale magnetic field on the M8 star VB 10 featuring a significant toroidal axisymmetric component, whereas no field is detectable on VB 8 (M7).