Why We Need to Understand Stars to Find the Next Earth

With the discovery of the first planet orbiting a normal star more than twenty years ago, and thousands of detected exoplanets since then, astronomy is firmly in the age of the exoplanet. The ultimate goal is to answer the question “Are we alone?”, with evidence of an inhabited world. Making headway in this topic for life outside our solar system requires probing a number of unknowns regarding the star planet ecosystem — what kinds of stars make the best habitable planet hosts? How might the evolutionary path of a planet around another star differ based on the properties and history of the star?  I will motivate the need to have a better understanding of the stars themselves and how they create the conditions conducive for life around them. I will discuss extreme magnetic reconnection events on stars, why they are of interest to many areas of astronomy (not just stellar and planetary), and recent constraints on the space weather environment around nearby stars. I will end with prospects for learning more on these topics in the next decade.

Cody Hall, AB 107

Rachel Osten (Space Telescope Science Institute)

April 04, 2018
14:00 - 15:00