M-dwarf stars below a certain mass are convective from their cores to their photospheres. These fully convective objects are extremely numerous, very magnetically active, and the likely hosts of many exoplanets. Here we study, for the first time, dynamo action in simulations of stratified, rotating, fully convective M-dwarf stars. Importantly, we use new techniques to capture the correct full ball geometry down to the center of the star. We find surprising dynamo states in these systems, with the global-scale mean fields confined strongly to a single hemisphere, in contrast to prior stellar dynamo solutions. These hemispheric-dynamo stars are likely to have profoundly different interactions with their surroundings, with important implications for exoplanet habitability and stellar spindown.

The Astrophysical Journal