The CARMENES search for exoplanets around M dwarfs Radial-velocity variations of active stars in visual-channel spectra

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Context. Previous simulations predicted the activity-induced radial-velocity (RV) variations of M dwarfs to range from similar to 1 cm s(-1) to similar to 1 km s(-1), depending on various stellar and activity parameters. Aims. We investigate the observed relations between RVs, stellar activity, and stellar parameters of M dwarfs by analyzing CARMENES high-resolution visual-channel spectra (0.5-1 mu m), which were taken within the CARMENES RV planet survey during its first 20 months of operation. Methods. During this time, 287 of the CARMENES-sample stars were observed at least five times. From each spectrum we derived a relative RV and a measure of chromospheric Ha emission. In addition, we estimated the chromatic index (CRX) of each spectrum, which is a measure of the RV wavelength dependence. Results. Despite having a median number of only 11 measurements per star, we show that the RV variations of the stars with RV scatter of >10 m s(-1) and a projected rotation velocity upsilon sin i > 2 km s(-1) are caused mainly by activity. We name these stars "active RV-loud stars" and find their occurrence to increase with spectral type: from similar to 3% for early-type M dwarfs (M0.0-2.5 V) through similar to 30% for mid-type M dwarfs (M3.0-5.5 V) to >50% for late-type M dwarfs (M6.0-9.0 V). Their RV-scatter amplitude is found to be correlated mainly with upsilon sin i. For about half of the stars, we also find a linear RV-CRX anticorrelation, which indicates that their activity-induced RV scatter is lower at longer wavelengths. For most of them we can exclude a linear correlation between RV and H alpha emission. Conclusions. Our results are in agreement with simulated activity-induced RV variations in M dwarfs. The RV variations of most active RV-loud M dwarfs are likely to be caused by dark spots on their surfaces, which move in and out of view as the stars rotate.
© ESO 2018. Artículo firmado por 25 autores. We thank the anonymous referee for their helpful comments and suggestions. We also thank the dedicated CAHA observers and technical staff for ensuring that the CARMENES measurements over the last two years were of high quality. CARMENES is an instrument for the Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán de Calar Alto (CAHA, Almeria, Spain). CARMENES is funded by the German Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG), the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the European Union through FEDER/ERF FICTS-2011-02 funds, and the members of the CARMENES Consortium (Max-Planck-Institut fur Astronomie, Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Landessternwarte Konigstuhl, Institut de Ciencies de l'Espai, Insitut fur Astrophysik Gottingen, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Thuringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Hamburger Sternwarte, Centro de Astrobiología and Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán), with additional contributions by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, the German Science Foundation through the Major Research Instrumentation Programme and DFG Research Unit FOR2544 "Blue Planets around Red Stars", the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, the states of Baden-Wurttemberg and Niedersachsen, and by the Junta de Andalucía. L.T. also thanks Tsevi Mazeh and Shay Zucker from Tel-Aviv University for their useful comments on this work.
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