Stars and Space Weather
Nearly all the energy we use to power human life on Earth comes from the Sun. We harness the Sun to power solar panels. We also burn fossil fuels made of ancient plants that relied on photosynthesis to live, and made of animals that ate those plants. We think that if there is life in other planetary systems it could also be highly reliant upon its star, or its sun. But stars are not always good for life. They spew intense and frequent stellar flares that strip the atmospheres off planets, leaving behind barren rocks. Earth’s magnetic field protects it from the worst of the Sun’s outbursts; the aurora borealis is the only obvious marker of the dangers we avoided. Are Earth-like exoplanets also protected from their stars? SEEC researchers are working to better understand the stars of extrasolar systems and the physics that drive magnetic dynamos in the deep interiors of exoplanets.