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The stellar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has been studied in the last decade and has been found to be an important factor to determine the habitability of planetary surfaces. It is known that UVR can be a constraint for life. However, most of the studies of UVR and habitability have missed some fundamental aspects: i) Accurate estimation of the planetary atmospheric attenuation, ii) The biological inferences used to represent the impact of the stellar UVR on life are theoretical and based on the action spectrum (for DNA or microorganisms) or considering parameters as the “lethal dose” obtained from non-astrobiological experiments. Therefore, the conclusions reached by previous studies about the UVR habitability of planetary bodies may be inaccurate. In this work, we propose how to address these studies in a more accurate way through an interdisciplinary approach that combines astrophysics, microbiology, and photobiology and by the use of specially designed laboratory experiments.
Stellar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) may play an important role in stellar and planetary evolution, therefore the knowledge on parameter distributions of this energetic activity phenomenon is highly relevant. During the last years several attempts have been made to detect stellar CMEs of late-type main-sequence and pre main-sequence stars from dedicated optical spectroscopic observations. Up to now only a handful of distinct stellar CME detections are known which contradicts the results from stellar CME modelling, which predict higher CME rates. We report on dedicated ongoing and future observational attempts to detect stellar CMEs and discuss the observational results with respect to the results from stellar CME modelling.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are explosive events that occur basically daily on the Sun. It is thought that these events play a crucial role in the angular momentum and mass loss of late-type stars, and also shape the environment in which planets form and live. Stellar CMEs can be detected in optical spectra in the Balmer lines, especially in Hα, as blue-shifted extra emission/absorption. To increase the detection probability one can monitor young open clusters, in which the stars are due to their youth still rapid rotators, and thus magnetically active and likely to exhibit a large number of CMEs. Using ESO facilities and the Nordic Optical Telescope we have obtained time series of multi-object spectroscopic observations of late-type stars in six open clusters with ages ranging from 15 Myrs to 300 Myrs. Additionally, we have studied archival data of numerous active stars. These observations will allow us to obtain information on the occurrence rate of CMEs in late-type stars with different ages and spectral types. Here we report on the preliminary outcome of our studies.
CMEs are large-scale magnetized plasma structures carrying billions of tons of material that erupt from a star and propagate in the stellar heliosphere, interacting in multiple ways with the stellar wind. Due to the high speed, intrinsic magnetic field and the increased plasma density compared to the stellar wind background, CMEs can produce strong effects on planetary environments when they collide with a planet. The main planetary impact factors of CMEs, are associated interplanetary shocks, energetic particles accelerated in the shock regions, and the magnetic field disturbances. All these factors should be taken into account during the study of evolutionary processes on exoplanets and their atmospheric and plasma environments. CME activity of a star may vary depending on stellar age, stellar spectral type and the orbital distance of a planet. Because of relatively short range of propagation of majority of CMEs, they impact most strongly the magnetospheres and atmospheres of close orbit (< 0.1 AU) exoplanets.
The intense stellar SXR and EUV radiation exposure at “Hot Jupiters” causes profound responses to their upper atmosphere structures. Thermospheric temperatures can reach several thousands of Kelvins, which result in dissociation of H2 to H and ionization of H to H+. Depending on the density and orbit location of the exoplanet, as a result of these high temperatures the thermosphere expands dynamically up to the Roche lobe, so that geometric blow-off with large mass loss rates and intense interaction with the stellar wind plasma can occur. UV transit observations together with advanced numerical models can be used to gain knowledge on stellar plasma and the planet's magnetic properties, as well as the upper atmosphere.
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