CXC: X-Rays Reveal Temperament of Possible Planet-Hosting Stars

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CXC: X-Rays Reveal Temperament of Possible Planet-Hosting Stars

Postby bystander » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:21 pm

X-Rays Reveal Temperament of Possible Planet-Hosting Stars
NASA | MSFC | SAO | Chandra X-ray Observatory | 2017 Sep 06

A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton suggests X-rays emitted by a planet's host star may provide critical clues to just how hospitable a star system could be. A team of researchers looked at 24 stars similar to the Sun, each at least one billion years old, and how their X-ray brightness changed over time.

Since stellar X-rays mirror magnetic activity, X-ray observations can tell astronomers about the high-energy environment around the star. In the new study the X-ray data from Chandra and XMM-Newton revealed that stars like the Sun and their less massive cousins calm down surprisingly quickly after a turbulent youth.

This artist's illustration depicts one of these comparatively calm, older Sun-like stars with a planet in orbit around it. The large dark area is a "coronal hole", a phenomenon associated with low levels of magnetic activity. The inset box shows the Chandra data of one of the observed objects, a two billion year old star called GJ 176, located 30 light years from Earth.

To understand how quickly stellar magnetic activity level changes over time, astronomers need accurate ages for many different stars. This is a difficult task, but new precise age estimates have recently become available from studies of the way that a star pulsates using NASA's Kepler and ESA's CoRoT missions. These new age estimates were used for most of the 24 stars studied here. ...

Press Release

An Improved Age-Activity Relationship for Cool Stars Older than a Gigayear - R. S. Booth et al
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