Jackson, RJ and Jeffries, RD (2014) The effect of starspots on the ages of low-mass stars determined from the lithium depletion boundary. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 441 (3). pp. 2111-2123. ISSN 1365-2966

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In a coeval group of low-mass stars, the luminosity of the sharp transition between stars that retain their initial lithium and those at slightly higher masses in which Li has been depleted by nuclear reactions, the lithium depletion boundary (LDB), has been advanced as an almost model-independent means of establishing an age scale for young stars. Here we construct polytropic models of contracting pre-main sequence stars (PMS) that have cool, magnetic starspots blocking a fraction $\beta$ of their photospheric flux. Starspots slow the descent along Hayashi tracks, leading to lower core temperatures and less Li destruction at a given mass and age. The age, $\tau_{\rm LDB}$, determined from the luminosity of the LDB, $L_{\rm LDB}$, is increased by a factor $(1-\beta)^{-E}$ compared to that inferred from unspotted models, where $E \simeq 1 + d\log \tau_{\rm LDB}/d \log L_{\rm LDB}$ and has a value $\sim 0.5$ at ages $< 80$ Myr, decreasing to $\sim 0.3$ for older stars. Spotted stars have virtually the same relationship between K-band bolometric correction and colour as unspotted stars, so this relationship applies equally to ages inferred from the absolute K magnitude of the LDB. Low-mass PMS stars do have starspots, but the appropriate value of $\beta$ is highly uncertain with a probable range of $0.1 < \beta < 0.4$. For the smaller $\beta$ values our result suggests a modest systematic increase in LDB ages that is comparable with the maximum levels of theoretical uncertainty previously claimed for the technique. The largest $\beta$ values would however increase LDB ages by 20-30 per cent and demand a re-evaluation of other age estimation techniques calibrated using LDB ages.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ©: 2014 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: stars, evolution, stars, low-mass, stars, pre-main-sequence, starspots
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB460 Astrophysics
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Physical and Geographical Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2015 16:11
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2017 15:31
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/239

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