Longitudinally Modulated Dynamo Action in Simulated M-dwarf Stars
M-dwarf stars are well known for the intense magnetic activity that many of them exhibit. In cool stars with near-surface convection zones, this magnetic activity is thought to be driven largely by the interplay of convection and the large-scale differential rotation and circulations it establishes. The highly nonlinear nature of these flows yields a fascinatingly sensitive and diverse parameter space, with a wide range of possible dynamics. We report here on a set of three global MHD simulations of rapidly rotating M2 (0.4 M ⊙) stars. Each of these three models established nests of vigorous convection that were highly modulated in longitude at low latitudes. Slight differences in their magnetic parameters led each model to disparate dynamo states, but the effect of the convective nest was a unifying feature. In each case, the action of longitudinally modulated convection led to localized (and in one case, global) reversals of the toroidal magnetic field, as well as the formation of an active longitude, with enhanced poloidal field amplitudes and flux emergence.
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The Astrophysical Journal
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