We investigate the use of the gravity sensitive neutral sodium (Na I) doublet at 8183 Å and 8195 Å (Na 8200 Å doublet) as an age indicator for M dwarfs. We measured the Na doublet equivalent width (EW) in giants, old dwarfs, young dwarfs, and candidate members of the β Pic moving group using medium-resolution spectra. Our Na 8200 Å doublet EW analysis shows that the feature is useful as an approximate age indicator in M-type dwarfs with (V – K s ) ≥ 5.0, reliably distinguishing stars older and younger than 100 Myr. A simple derivation of the dependence of the Na EW on temperature and gravity supports the observational results. An analysis of the effects of metallicity shows that this youth indicator is best used on samples with similar metallicity. The age estimation technique presented here becomes useful in a mass regime where traditional youth indicators are increasingly less reliable, is applicable to other alkali lines, and will help identify new low-mass members in other young clusters and associations.
Joshua E. Schlieder, Sébastien Lépine, Emily Rice, Michal Simon, Drummond Fielding, and Rachael Tomasino. The Na 8200 Å Doublet as an Age Indicator in Low-mass Stars. AJ, 143:114,, May 2012