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Journal Articles Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A Year : 2019

Metallicity, temperature, and gravity scales of M subdwarfs

N. Lodieu
  • Function : Author
C. Rodrigo
  • Function : Author
Y. Pavlenko
  • Function : Author
A. Burgasser
  • Function : Author
Y. Lyubchik
  • Function : Author
B. Kaminsky
  • Function : Author
D. Homeier
  • Function : Author


Aims: The aim of the project is to define metallicity/gravity/temperature scales for different spectral types of metal-poor M dwarfs.
Methods: We obtained intermediate-resolution ultraviolet (R ∼ 3300), optical (R ∼ 5400), and near-infrared (R ∼ 3900) spectra of 43 M subdwarfs (sdM), extreme subdwarfs (esdM), and ultra-subdwarfs (usdM) with the X-shooter spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope. We compared our atlas of spectra to the latest BT-Settl synthetic spectral energy distribution over a wide range of metallicities, gravities, and effective temperatures to infer the physical properties for the whole M dwarf sequence (M0-M9.5) at sub-solar metallicities and constrain the latest atmospheric models.
Results: The BT-Settl models accurately reproduce the observed spectra across the 450-2500 nm wavelength range except for a few regions. We find that the best fits are obtained for gravities of log (g) = 5.0-5.5 for the three metal classes. We infer metallicities of [Fe/H] = -0.5, -1.5, and -2.0 ± 0.5 dex and effective temperatures of 3700-2600 K, 3800-2900 K, and 3700-2900 K for subdwarfs, extreme subdwarfs, and ultra-subdwarfs, respectively. Metal-poor M dwarfs tend to be warmer by about 200 ± 100 K and exhibit higher gravity than their solar-metallicity counterparts. We derive abundances of several elements (Fe, Na, K, Ca, Ti) for our sample but cannot describe their atmospheres with a single metallicity parameter. Our metallicity scale expands the current scales available for mildly metal-poor planet-host low-mass stars. Our compendium of moderate-resolution spectra covering the 0.45-2.5 micron range represents an important resource for large-scale surveys and space missions to come.

All observed spectra are available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to ( or via on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, Chile, under programmes 089.C-0140(A), 091.C-0264(A), 092.D-0600(A), and 093.C-0610(A).

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Dates and versions

insu-03711422 , version 1 (02-07-2022)



N. Lodieu, F. Allard, C. Rodrigo, Y. Pavlenko, A. Burgasser, et al.. Metallicity, temperature, and gravity scales of M subdwarfs. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, 2019, 628, ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201935299⟩. ⟨insu-03711422⟩
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