Weakened Magnetic Braking in the Exoplanet Host Star 51 Peg

The consistently low activity level of the old solar analog 51 Peg not only facilitated the discovery of the first hot Jupiter, but also led to the suggestion that the star could be experiencing a magnetic grand minimum. However, the 50 yr time series showing minimal chromospheric variability could also be associated with the onset of weakened magnetic braking (WMB), where sufficiently slow rotation disrupts cycling activity and the production of large scale magnetic fields by the stellar dynamo, thereby shrinking the Alfvén radius and inhibiting the efficient loss of angular momentum to magnetized stellar winds. In this Letter, we evaluate the magnetic evolutionary state of 51 Peg by estimating its wind braking torque. We use new spectropolarimetric measurements from the Large Binocular Telescope to reconstruct the large-scale magnetic morphology, we reanalyze archival X-ray measurements to estimate the mass-loss rate, and we detect solar-like oscillations in photometry from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, yielding precise stellar properties from asteroseismology. Our estimate of the wind braking torque for 51 Peg clearly places it in the WMB regime, driven by changes in the mass-loss rate and the magnetic field strength and morphology that substantially exceed theoretical expectations. Although our revised stellar properties have minimal consequences for the characterization of the exoplanet, they have interesting implications for the current space weather environment of the system.

ZDI maps of the radial, meridional, and azimuthal field components of 51 Peg. Contours are shown with a step of 0.5 G. The dotted line corresponds to the lowest visible latitude. The vertical bars at the bottom of each panel show the central longitude of each LBT observation.

Read more: Metcalfe, T., Strassmeier, K. G., Ilyin, I. V. et al. 2024, ApJ 960, L6

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