On using photometric data from Kepler to study starspots, and to measure differential rotation rates.
Very low-mass M-dwarfs are a missing link in our theory of stellar interiors. Stars this small probably have fully convective interiors, but we don’t have a complete understanding of how that affects global properties like radius or temperature. It’s important to get right, if for no other reason because lots of exoplanets orbit M-dwarfs.
Heavy stars live like rock stars: they live fast, become big, and die young. Low mass stars, on the other hand, are more persistent, and live longer. Fusing hydrogen slow and steady wins the stellar age-race.
While the Sun is an excellent starting point in a quest to understand magnetism, the authors of today’s paper want more. They take advantage of something only relatively cool stars can have in their atmospheres to study magnetic fields: molecules in starspots.
Could the properties of an M-dwarf that might make it inhospitable also give it transformative powers? Could the star’s gravity and violence strip away a planet’s thick atmosphere, or envelope, to reveal a habitable core?
Many exoplanets in our galaxy are all alone. They have no one to cuddle up to on those cold, lonely nights in space…