Plausible association of distant late M dwarfs with low-frequency radio emission

A. J. Gloudemans, J. R. Callingham, K. J. Duncan, A. Saxena, Y. Harikane, G. J. Hill, G. R. Zeimann, H. J. A. Rottgering, M. J. Hardcastle, J. S. Pineda, T. W. Shimwell, D. J. B. Smith, J. D. Wagenveld

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We present the serendipitous discovery of eight distant (> 50 pc) late M dwarfs with plausible associated radio emission at 144 MHz. The M-dwarf nature of our sources has been confirmed with optical spectroscopy performed using HET/LRS2 and Subaru/FOCAS, and their radio flux densities are within the range of 0.5 1.0 mJy at 144 MHz. Considering the radio-optical source separation and source densities of the parent catalogues, we suggest that it is statistically probable that the M dwarfs are associated with the radio emission. However, it remains plausible that for some of the sources the radio emission originates from an optically faint and red galaxy hiding behind the M dwarf. The isotropic radio luminosities (1017-18 erg s 1 Hz 1) of the M dwarfs suggest that if the association is real, the radio emission is likely driven by a coherent emission process produced via plasma or electron-cyclotron maser instability processes, which is potentially caused by binary interaction. Long-term monitoring in the radio and high-resolution radio follow-up observations are necessary to search for any variability and pinpoint the radio emission to determine whether our tentative conclusion that these ultracool dwarfs are radio emitting is correct. If the low-frequency radio emission is conclusively associated with the M dwarfs, this would reveal a new population of optically faint and distant (> 50 pc) radio-emitting M dwarfs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA161
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Issue numberOctober 2023
Early online date17 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2023


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.HE
  • Stars: low-mass
  • Radio continuum: stars
  • Techniques: spectroscopic


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