Exoplanets & Exomoons

Radial-velocity Variations Due To Meridional Flows In The Sun And Solar-type Stars: Impact On Exoplanet Detectability

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 23, 2020
Filed under
Radial-velocity Variations Due To Meridional Flows In The Sun And Solar-type Stars: Impact On Exoplanet Detectability
Stellar RV peak-to-peak amplitude (scaled to solar meridional flows from U10, cycle 23) vs. B-V for solar cycle 23 amplitude (upper panels) and scaled to cycle amplitude from our grid of parameters (lower panels) for four inclinations. Orange symbols represent rotation rates higher than the solar one. The black lines on the left of each panel indicate where the mass is outside the range of hydrodynamical simulation parameters. The peak-to-peak amplitude of the planetary signal, assuming the planet orbital plane is similar to the stellar equatorial plane, is shown for 1 MEarth (solid lines) and 2 MEarth (dashed lines) and for different orbital periods in the habitable zone: PHZ<sub>in</sub> (black), PHZ<sub>med</sub> (red), and PHZ<sub>out</sub> (green). The planetary curves for a pole-on configuration therefore follow the x-axis.

Stellar variability due to magnetic activity and flows at different spatial scales strongly impacts radial velocities. This variability is seen as oscillations, granulation, supergranulation, and meridional flows.

The effect of this latter process is poorly known but could affect exoplanet detectability. We aim to quantify its amplitude when integrated over the disc and its temporal variability, first for the Sun, seen with different inclinations, and then for other solar-type stars. We used long time series of solar latitudinal meridional circulation to reconstruct its integrated contribution.

We then used scaling laws from HD simulations relating the amplitude of the meridional flow variability with stellar mass and rotation rate to estimate the typical amplitude expected for other solar-type stars. We find typical rms of the order of 0.5-0.7 m/s (edge-on) and 1.2-1.7 m/s (pole-on) for the Sun, with a minimal jitter for an inclination of 45-55 deg. This is significant compared to other stellar activity contributions and is much larger than the radial-velocity signal of the Earth.

The variability is strongly related to the activity cycle. Extension to other solar-type stars shows that the variability due to meridional flows is dominated by the amplitude of the cycle of those stars. The meridional flow contribution sometimes represents a high fraction of the convective blueshift inhibition signal, especially for quiet, low-mass stars. Our study shows that these meridional flows could be critical for exoplanet detection. Low inclinations are more impacted than edge-on configurations, but these latter still exhibit significant variability. Meridional flows also degrade the correlation between radial velocities due to convective blueshift inhibition and chromospheric activity indicators. This will make the correction from this signal challenging for stars with no multi-cellular patterns.

Nadège Meunier, Anne-Marie Lagrange
Comments: Accepted in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2004.10611 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:2004.10611v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Nadege Meunier
[v1] Wed, 22 Apr 2020 14:49:54 UTC (1,093 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻