Red Dwarf Star Generates Magnetic Field Stronger Than The Sun

Posted: Nov 20 2015, 11:42pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 22 2015, 4:06pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Astronomers Discover Red Dwarf Star that is More Powerful than Sun
Credit: CFA

The dim dwarf star generates a magnetic field stronger than the Sun.

Astronomers have spotted a dim dwarf star that is producing a surprisingly powerful magnetic field. The magnetic field is so intense that it beats out the magnetic field generated by our own Sun.

The red dwarf star, also known as TVLM 513-46546, is located 35 light years away from the Earth and has been discovered through Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). 

The star is fairly tiny, just 10 percent of the whole mass of the Sun but spins quickly and creates a storm like environment. Scientists say that the star completes a rotation in just two compared to Sun which takes about 25 days to complete the process.


Generally, tiny and cool stars are very calm and composed but the remarkably stronger flares emitting from this star have surprised the scientists. They suggest that strong magnetic field may be linked to the eruptions of solar like flares. These flares accelerate cosmic particles and cause them to emit powerful signal detectable by radio telescope ALMA. If similar kind of star becomes a host star of a potentially habitable planet, it will make it less habitable and difficult for live to thrive.

"If we lived around a star like this one, we wouldn't have any satellite communications. In fact, it might be extremely difficult for life to evolve at all in such a stormy environment.” lead author Peter Williams of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) said.

Researchers detected emission exactly at a frequency of 95GHz which is remarkably higher for such a small and cool star. Our sun also emits similar flares but occasionally and when they happen, they are 10,000 times less bright than the emissions this red dwarf star.

Red dwarfs are very common stars in our galaxy. Because they are mostly calm and cool, the planets revolving around them can be potential candidate of habitable planets. But the nature of this strange red dwarf is challenging previous theories and suggesting that planets orbiting red dwarfs may not be habitable. 

"It's like living in Tornado Alley in the U.S. Your location puts you at greater risk of severe storms," explains Williams. "A planet in the habitable zone of a star like this would be buffeted by storms much stronger than those generated by the Sun." 

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CFA)

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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