Calibration of the MEarth Photometric System: Optical Magnitudes and Photometric Metallicity Estimates for 1802 Nearby M-dwarfs
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CitationDittmann, Jason A., Jonathan M. Irwin, David Charbonneau, and Elisabeth R. Newton. 2016. Calibration of the MEarth Photometric System: Optical Magnitudes and Photometric Metallicity Estimates for 1802 Nearby M-dwarfs. The Astrophysical Journal 818, no. 2: 153. doi:10.3847/0004-637x/818/2/153.
AbstractThe MEarth Project is a photometric survey systematically searching the smallest stars nearest to the Sun for transiting rocky planets. Since 2008, MEarth has taken approximately two million images of 1844 stars suspected to be midto-late M dwarfs. We have augmented this survey by taking nightly exposures of photometric standard stars and have utilized this data to photometrically calibrate the MEarth system, identify photometric nights, and obtain an optical magnitude with 1.5% precision for each M dwarf system. Each optical magnitude is an average over many years of data, and therefore should be largely immune to stellar variability and flaring. We combine this with trigonometric distance measurements, spectroscopic metallicity measurements, and 2MASS infrared magnitude measurements in order to derive a color-magnitude-metallicity relation across the mid-to-late M dwarf spectral sequence that can reproduce spectroscopic metallicity determinations to a precision of 0.1 dex. We release optical magnitudes and metallicity estimates for 1567 M dwarfs, many of which did not have an accurate determination of either prior to this work. For an additional 277 stars without a trigonometric parallax, we provide an estimate of the distance assuming solar neighborhood metallicity. We find that the median metallicity for a volume limited sample of stars within 20 parsecs of the Sun is [Fe/H] = −0.03 ± 0.008, and that 29 / 565 of these stars have a metallicity of [Fe/H] = −0.5 or lower, similar to the low-metallicity distribution of nearby G-dwarfs. When combined with the results of ongoing and future planet surveys targeting these objects, the metallicity estimates presented here will be important in assessing the significance of any putative planet-metallicity correlation.
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