Stellar Flares and Habitable(?) Worlds from TESS


WHEN March 9, 2021
5 PM WHERE Zoom WHO Center for Space Science Open to the Public

In our search for habitable worlds, we have to account for explosive stellar flaring and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) impacting exoplanets’ surface or cloud habitability. These stellar outbursts are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, flares and CMEs are capable of stripping off atmospheres and extinguishing existing biology. On the other hand, flares might be the (only) means to deliver the trigger energy for prebiotic chemistry and initiate life.

In this talk, Maximilian N. Günthe (MIT) highlights their TESS study of all stellar flares from Years one and two of the mission, driven by a convolutional neural network. Such state-of-the-art machine learning approaches allow a fast, efficient, and probabilistic characterization of flares. Günther will discuss new insights on flaring as a function of stellar type, age, rotation, spot coverage, and other factors. Most importantly, he will link their findings to prebiotic chemistry and ozone sterilization, identifying which worlds might lie just in the right regime between too much and too little flaring. With the TESS extended mission and increased cadences (20s, 2min, and 10min), stellar flare studies and new exoplanet discoveries will ultimately aid in defining criteria for exoplanet habitability.

Email for more details.

  • Maximilian N. Günther, MIT

In Collaboration with

UAE Space Agency

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