Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Speedy Mic’s Photograph

20.12.2007
Flare found on ultra-fast rotating star puzzles astronomers

Using observations from ESO’s VLT, astronomers were able for the first time to reconstruct the site of a flare on a solar-like star located 150 light years away. The study of this young star, nicknamed ‘Speedy Mic’ because of its fast rotation, will help scientists better understand the youth of our Sun.

The astronomers [1] observed the star BO Microscopii [2] during two consecutive nights in October 2006, simultaneously with the UVES spectrograph on ESO’s Very Large Telescope and ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray satellite.

Using a technique called ‘Doppler imaging’ [3], the astronomers reconstructed images of the surface of the star, detecting the presence of several spots. A few are near the visible pole, while most spots are asymmetrically distributed at mid-latitudes.

“The image we could secure of Speedy Mic is, given its distance, a real prowess, that allows us to localise for the first time ever the source of a flare and its surrounding,” says Uwe Wolter, lead author of the paper relating the discovery.

The X-ray observations indeed identified several flares, which are sudden and vast releases of energy. For one of them, the astronomers could pinpoint its origin on the surface of the star. The flare, lasting about 4 hours, was a hundred times more energetic than a large solar flare and considerably larger than solar coronal loops.

The surprising finding, the team says, was the location of the flare. Contrary to our Sun, the site of the observed flare does not correspond to the detected spots.

“Interestingly, the flare occurs on a rather inconspicuous portion of the star’s surface, away from the main concentration of activity in terms of dark spots,” explains Wolter.

Speedy Mic is a very young star: with an age of only about 30 million years, it is roughly 150 times younger than the Sun. “It is very likely that our young Sun was such a fast rotator as well,” says Wolter. “Studying Speedy Mic is thus like observing our own host star while still in its infancy and so, better understand how the eruptions on the young Sun affected the planets. These studies may also contribute to the understanding of current solar eruptions which can cause havoc in our telecommunications and power distributions.”

Notes
[1] The team is composed of U. Wolter, J. Robrade, and J. Schmitt (Hamburg Observatory, Germany), and J. Ness (Arizona State University, USA).
[2] BO Microscopii (or BO Mic and nicknamed ‘Speedy Mic’) is a young star with a mass about 90 % the mass of our Sun. It is located 150 light years away towards the Microscope constellation. Speedy Mic owns its name because of its very fast rotation. The object rotates 66 times as fast as our Sun, which results in much stronger magnetic fields than on the Sun.
[3] Speedy Mic is a star slightly smaller than the Sun and is about ten million times further away from us than the Sun is. Trying to see spots on its surface is thus as challenging as trying to directly obtain a photograph of the footsteps of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, and be able to see details in it. This is impossible to achieve even with the best telescopes: to obtain an image with such amount of details, you would need a telescope with a 400 km wide mirror!
Astronomers make therefore use of indirect imaging techniques, such as Doppler imaging, to achieve this incredible prowess. Doppler imaging makes use of the information contained in the slightly changing spectra observed as a star rotates. In this case, the astronomers obtained 142 spectra of the star with the UVES spectrograph on ESO’s VLT.

[4] Sunspots, which are cooler, but still very hot regions of the Sun’s surface, are known to be regions of intense magnetic activity.

Henri Boffin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2007/pr-53-07.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration
18.10.2017 | NASA/Johnson Space Center

nachricht Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars
18.10.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>