Astron. J., 143, 12 (2012/January-0)
The implications of M dwarf flares on the detection and characterization of exoplanets at infrared wavelengths.
TOFFLEMIRE B.M., WISNIEWSKI J.P., KOWALSKI A.F., SCHMIDT S.J., KUNDURTHY P., HILTON E.J., HOLTZMAN J.A. and HAWLEY S.L.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present the results of an observational campaign which obtained high-cadence, high-precision, simultaneous optical and IR photometric observations of three M dwarf flare stars for 47 hr. The campaign was designed to characterize the behavior of energetic flare events, which routinely occur on M dwarfs, at IR wavelengths to millimagnitude precision, and quantify to what extent such events might influence current and future efforts to detect and characterize extrasolar planets surrounding these stars. We detected and characterized four highly energetic optical flares having U-band total energies of ∼7.8 x1030 to ∼1.3x1032 erg, and found no corresponding response in the J, H, or Ks bandpasses at the precision of our data. For active dM3e stars, we find that a ∼1.3x1032 erg U-band flare (ΔUmax∼ 1.5 mag) will induce <8.3 (J), <8.5 (H), and <11.7 (Ks) mmag of a response. A flare of this energy or greater should occur less than once per 18 hr. For active dM4.5e stars, we find that a ∼5.1x1031 erg U-band flare (ΔUmax ∼ 1.6 mag) will induce <7.8 (J), <8.8 (H), and <5.1 (Ks) mmag of a response. A flare of this energy or greater should occur less than once per 10 hr. No evidence of stellar variability not associated with discrete flare events was observed at the level of ∼3.9 mmag over 1 hr timescales and at the level of ∼5.6 mmag over 7.5 hr timescales. We therefore demonstrate that most M dwarf stellar activity and flares will not influence IR detection and characterization studies of M dwarf exoplanets above the level of ∼5-11 mmag, depending on the filter and spectral type. We speculate that the most energetic megaflares on M dwarfs, which occur at rates of once per month, are likely to be easily detected in IR observations with sensitivity of tens of millimagnitudes. We also discuss how recent detections of line flux enhancements during M dwarf flares could influence IR transmission spectroscopic observations of M dwarf exoplanets.
stars: flare - stars: individual (YZ CMi, EV Lac, AD Leo)
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