Toroidal versus poloidal magnetic fields in Sun-like stars: A rotation threshold

P. Petit, B. Dintrans, S. K. Solanki, J. F. Donati, M. Aurière, F. Lignières, J. Morin, F. Paletou, J. Ramirez, C. Catala, R. Fares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

206 Citations (Scopus)


From a set of stellar spectropolarimetric observations, we report the detection of surface magnetic fields in a sample of four solar-type stars, namely HD 73350, HD 76151, HD 146233 (18 Sco) and HD 190771. Assuming that the observed variability of polarimetric signal is controlled by stellar rotation, we establish the rotation periods of our targets, with values ranging from 8.8 d (for HD 190771) to 22.7 d (for HD 146233). Apart from rotation, fundamental parameters of the selected objects are very close to the Sun's, making this sample a practical basis to investigate the specific impact of rotation on magnetic properties of Sun-like stars. We reconstruct the large-scale magnetic geometry of the targets as a low-order (ℓ <10) spherical harmonic expansion of the surface magnetic field. From the set of magnetic maps, we draw two main conclusions. (i) The magnetic energy of the large-scale field increases with rotation rate. The increase in chromospheric emission with the mean magnetic field is flatter than observed in the Sun. Since the chromospheric flux is also sensitive to magnetic elements smaller than those contributing to the polarimetric signal, this observation suggests that a larger fraction of the surface magnetic energy is stored in large scales as rotation increases. (ii) Whereas the magnetic field is mostly poloidal for low rotation rates, more rapid rotators host a large-scale toroidal component in their surface field. From our observations, we infer that a rotation period lower than ≈12 d is necessary for the toroidal magnetic energy to dominate over the poloidal component.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-88
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Stars: individual: HD 146233
  • Stars: individual: HD 190771
  • Stars: individual: HD 73350
  • Stars: individual: HD 76151
  • Stars: magnetic fields
  • Stars: rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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