Hidden magnetic fields of young suns

O. Kochukhov*, T. Hackman, J. J. Lehtinen, A. Wehrhahn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Global magnetic fields of active solar-like stars are, nowadays, routinely detected with spectropolarimetric measurements and are mapped with Zeeman Doppler imaging (ZDI). However, due to the cancellation of opposite field polarities, polarimetry only captures a tiny fraction of the magnetic flux and cannot assess the overall stellar surface magnetic field if it is dominated by a small-scale component. The analysis of Zeeman broadening in high-resolution intensity spectra can reveal these hidden complex magnetic fields. Historically, there were very few attempts to obtain such measurements for G dwarf stars due to the difficulty of disentangling the Zeeman effect from other broadening mechanisms affecting spectral lines. Here, we developed a new magnetic field diagnostic method based on relative Zeeman intensification of optical atomic lines with different magnetic sensitivity. By using this technique, we obtained 78 field strength measurements for 15 Sun-like stars, including some of the best-studied young solar twins. We find that the average magnetic field strength Bf drops from 1.3-2.0 kG in stars younger than about 120 Myr to 0.2-0.8 kG in older stars. The mean field strength shows a clear correlation with the Rossby number and with the coronal and chromospheric emission indicators. Our results suggest that magnetic regions have roughly the same local field strength B ≈ 3.2 kG in all stars, with the filling factor f of these regions systematically increasing with stellar activity. In comparing our results with the spectropolarimetric analyses of global magnetic fields in the same stars, we find that ZDI recovers about 1% of the total magnetic field energy in the most active stars. This figure drops to just 0.01% for the least active targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Stars: activity
  • Stars: late-type
  • Stars: magnetic field
  • Stars: solar-type


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