A study of flares in the ultra-cool regime from SPECULOOS-South

C. A. Murray, D. Queloz, M. Gillon, B. O. Demory, A. H. M. J. Triaud, J. de Wit, A. Burdanov, P. Chinchilla, L. Delrez, G. Dransfield, E. Ducrot, L. J. Garcia, Y. Gómez Maqueo Chew, M. N. Günther, E. Jehin, J. McCormac, P. Niraula, P. P. Pedersen, F. J. Pozuelos, B. V. RackhamN. Schanche, D. Sebastian, S. J. Thompson, M. Timmermans, R. Wells

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We present a study of photometric flares on 154 low-mass ($\leq 0.2 \textrm{M}_{\odot}$) objects observed by the SPECULOOS-South Observatory from 1st June 2018 to 23rd March 2020. In this sample we identify 85 flaring objects, ranging in spectral type from M4 to L0. We detect 234 flares in this sample, with energies between $10^{29.2}$ and $10^{32.7}$ erg, using both automated and manual methods. With this work, we present the largest photometric sample of flares on late-M and ultra-cool dwarfs to date. By extending previous M dwarf flare studies into the ultra-cool regime, we find M5-M7 stars are more likely to flare than both earlier, and later, M dwarfs. By performing artificial flare injection-recovery tests we demonstrate that we can detect a significant proportion of flares down to an amplitude of 1 per cent, and we are most sensitive to flares on the coolest stars. Our results reveal an absence of high-energy flares on the reddest dwarfs. To probe the relations between rotation and activity for fully convective stars, we extract rotation periods for fast rotators and lower-bound period estimates of slow rotators. These rotation periods span from 2.2 hours to 65 days, and we find that the proportion of flaring stars increases for the very fastest rotators. Finally, we discuss the impact of our flare sample on planets orbiting ultra-cool stars. As stars become cooler, they flare less frequently; therefore, it is unlikely that planets around the very reddest dwarfs would enter the `abiogenesis' zone or drive visible-light photosynthesis through flares alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2615–2634
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date19 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • astro-ph.EP
  • astro-ph.SR


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