NSAS General Meeting for August; special speaker

3 08 2017

The NSAS General Meeting for August will be on Tuesday the 15th August at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Christine Lynch from USyd.

“My talk will be about using MHz-frequency radio telescopes (like the Murchison Widefield Array) to search for radio emission from exoplanets and what that radio emission can tell us about exoplanets.”

As usual, guests are most welcome!

Title: Characterising stellar and planetary magnetic fields via low-frequency radio astronomy


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, which regulates its surface temperature. Intense stellar magnetic activity can erode the planet’s atmosphere. Strong planetary magnetic fields may mitigate the impact of the stellar magnetic activity. Thus to evaluate a planet’s habitability, the magnetic fields of both star and planet must be considered. 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. In this talk I’ll present my latest results using the Murchison Widefield Array, a low frequency radio telescope located in Western Australia, to constrain the magnetic activity of star-planet systems.