Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists observe first Sun-like magnetic cycle on another star

06.10.2016

A model for the Sun

An international team of scientists led by the University of Göttingen has observed a Sun-like magnetic cycle on another planet for the first time. The Sun’s magnetic field drives the Sun’s spots and flares and fuels the Solar wind – a torrent of material that streams off our star into space.


Artist’s illustration of the young Sun-like star Kappa Ceti, blotched with large starspots, which is a sign of its high level of magnetic activity.

Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

The discovery is important not only for stellar physics, but also to understand and predict how the Sun affects the Earth and our technological society through its magnetic activity. The results were published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

With the advent of dedicated instruments known as stellar spectropolarimeters roughly ten years ago, it became possible to map the magnetic fields of nearby Sun-like stars. Using this new technology at the Bernhard Lyot Telescope in the French Pyrenees, the scientists observed the star 61 Cyg A over a period of nine years. Lying in the northern constellation of Cygnus, 61 Cyg A is somewhat smaller and less massive than the Sun, and at a distance of just over eleven light years it is one of the Sun’s nearest neighbours.

The Sun’s activity varies over the course of a 22-year long magnetic cycle, with the polarity of its magnetic field flipping every eleven years. The frequency and strength of these activities wax and wane over the course of a cycle, with two active periods interspersed with more quiet ones. All in all, the variations are relatively small and slow – a stark contrast to the great bulk of known magnetically active stars that vary dramatically in brightness, release enormous flares and display much more complex long-term variability.

Although 61 Cyg A is a little dimmer and cooler than the Sun, the scientists were able to detect changes in its activity coinciding with polarity flips over a seven-year activity cycle, for a magnetic cycle of 14 years. They observed polarity changes every seven years and an increased complexity in its magnetic field when these flips were approached.

“Our findings could contribute greatly towards creating models of how the Sun and other stars generate magnetic fields. This will enable us to gain an understanding of this important process, which is thought to be operating inside all Sun-like stars, and to help us to further understand our own Sun,” explains Sudeshna Bodo Saikia, Ph.D. student at Göttingen University and lead author of the study. A better understanding of this process and of our Sun in general will increase our ability to predict the impact of the Sun’s activities on our technology on Earth and on orbiting satellites.

The Solar wind and coronal mass ejections can indeed have a huge impact on Earth. When these flows of plasma reach Earth, they not only produce the northern and southern lights, but they can also disturb radio communication and power grids at ground level, as well as damage satellites and even threaten astronauts in Earth orbit.

Original publication: Sudeshna Boro Saikia et al. A solar-like magnetic cycle on the mature K-dwarf 61 Cygni A (HD 201091). Astronomy & Astrophysics 2016. Doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/201628262.

Contact:
Sudeshna Bodo Saikia
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Physics – Institute for Astrophysics
Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 551 39-13286
Email: sudeshna@astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de
Web: http://www.astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de/~sudeshna

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/3240.html?cid=5448 photos

Thomas Richter | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State 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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>