Next Meeting Presentation

3 Nov. 2022 – Club Meeting Presentation
— Thursday night, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

This free speaker presentation will be offered in-person at the UNC-Asheville Reuter Center and virtually online. Registration is not required; use this Zoom link to watch the presentation remotely.

An Astronomy Guest Speaker Series Event – a collaboration of the Astronomy Club of Asheville and UNC-Asheville

Extreme Space Weather and the Habitability of Extrasolar Planets
– presented by
Christene Lynch, Ph.D.
University Fellow at University of North Carolina – Asheville

Establishing what criteria define habitability is essential for determining the potential for life outside the Solar System. Traditionally, a planet is considered habitable if it is orbiting within the circumstellar region that makes possible the existence of liquid water on the planet’s surface. However, an equally important factor in determining habitability is the stability of a planet’s atmosphere. Intense stellar magnetic activity, such as flares and wind, can erode the planet’s atmosphere, leaving the planet uninhabitable. M dwarf stars are of particular interest as they are currently favoured as most likely to host habitable, nearby exoplanets. Yet the extreme magnetic activity observed for some M dwarf stars places some doubt on the ability of orbiting exoplanets to host life. Radio observations uniquely provide direct measurements of the magnetic field strengths associated with stars and planets. New wide-field, low frequency radio telescopes will probe a frequency regime that is mostly unexplored for many magnetically active stars and where exoplanets are expected to produce radio emission. Detection of both exoplanetary and stellar magnetic fields will allow us to better evaluate the habitability of planets other than the Earth.