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Coronal structure of low-mass stars




We investigate the change in stellar magnetic topology across the fully convective boundary and its effects on coronal properties. We consider both the magnitude of the open flux that influences angular momentum loss in the stellar wind and X-ray emission measure. We use reconstructed maps of the radial magnetic field at the stellar surface and the potential-field source surface method to extrapolate a 3D coronal magnetic field for a sample of early-to-mid M dwarfs. During the magnetic reconstruction process it is possible to force a solution towards field geometries that are symmetric or antisymmetric about the equator but we demonstrate that this has only a modest impact on the coronal tracers mentioned above. We find that the dipole component of the field, which governs the large-scale structure, becomes increasingly strong as the stellar mass decreases, while the magnitude of the open (wind-bearing) magnetic flux is proportional to the magnitude of the reconstructed magnetic flux. By assuming a hydrostatic and isothermal corona, we calculate X-ray emission measures (in magnitude and rotational modulation) for each star and, using observed stellar densities as a constraint, we reproduce the observed X-ray saturation at Ro≤ 0.1. We find that X-ray rotational modulation is not a good indicator of magnetic structure as it shows no trend with Rossby number but can be useful in discriminating between different assumptions on the field geometry.