Journal Article

The M dwarf problem in the Galaxy

Vincent M. Woolf and Andrew A. West

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 2, pages 1489-1494
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20722.x
The M dwarf problem in the Galaxy

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We present evidence that there is an M dwarf problem similar to the previously identified G dwarf and K dwarf problems: the number of low-metallicity M dwarfs is not sufficient to match simple closed-box models of local Galactic chemical evolution. We estimated the metallicity of 4141 M dwarf stars with spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) using a molecular band strength versus metallicity calibration developed using high resolution spectra of nearby M dwarfs. Using a sample of M dwarfs with measured magnitudes, parallaxes and metallicities, we derived a relation that describes the absolute magnitude variation as a function of metallicity. When we examined the metallicity distribution of SDSS stars, after correcting for the different volumes sampled by the magnitude-limited survey, we found that there is an M dwarf problem, with the number of M dwarfs at [Fe/H] ∼−0.5 less than 1 per cent the number at [Fe/H] = 0, where a Simple model of Galactic chemical evolution predicts a more gradual drop in star numbers with decreasing metallicity.

Keywords: stars: abundances; stars: late-type; stars: statistics; Galaxy: abundances; Galaxy: evolution; Galaxy: stellar content

Journal Article.  4965 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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