Turbulent convection at the heart of stellar magnetic activity

March 09, 2020

By combining modern data analysis techniques with stellar structure modelling researchers shed new light on stellar dynamos. 

Turbulent convection at the heart of stellar magnetic activity

Different stars can exhibit very different levels of activity. The Sun’s coronal mass ejections, flares and sunspots – all signs of solar activity – are rather feeble on an astronomical scale. Other stars are up to ten times more active, for example sporting huge starspots that cover a large portion of their disc. While researchers have long identified the magnetic fields generated in the interior of stars in a dynamo process as drivers of activity, the exact workings of this dynamo are still unclear. A group of scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany has now searched for an answer by applying the same analysis to a sample of both main sequence and more evolved stars. They find that a common, turbulence-dependent dynamo mechanism plays a crucial role for stellar activity in all stages of stellar evolution. The results are published in next week’s issue of Nature Astronomy. Read the full press release here .

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