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Star-planet magnetic interactions and its consequences for planetary habitability

Grant number: 16/25901-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2017
Status:Discontinued
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Astronomy
Principal Investigator:Adriana Benetti Marques Valio
Grantee:Raissa de Lourdes Freitas Estrela
Home Institution: Escola de Engenharia (EE). Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (UPM). Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie. São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/10559-5 - Investigation of high energy and plasma astrophysics phenomena: theory, numerical simulations, observations, and instrument development for the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), AP.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):18/09984-7 - Unveiling haze formation and energy balance in the exoplanets atmospheres with the Hubble Space Telescope, BE.EP.DR

Abstract

Stars can interact with their close-in planet through their coronal magnetic field. Stellar magnetic field is the driver of activity in the star and can trigger spots, energetic flares, coronal plasma ejections and ionized winds. These phenomena may have an important impact on the atmosphere and magnetosphere of the orbiting planets. As a consequence, they can strongly affect the planet's habitability and could represent a new constrain in the definition of the Habitable Zone (HZ). The upcoming new space missions will be able to detect more Earth-like planets in the HZ of their host star. Thus, in the next years more attention can be expected on factors that can determine if a planet is really habitable. In this PhD project, we will focus on how stellar magnetic fields, their winds and flares impact on the planetary habitability. In particular, we aim to provide a full characterization of the activity in the Kepler stars analysed in this work. First of all, we will characterize the spots (radius, intensity and position) on the surface of the star by fitting the small variations in the light curve of a star caused by the occultation of a spot during a planetary transit. Next, we will develop stellar magnetic maps using the spots distribution in the stellar surface. Finally, we will detect and characterize stellar flares, and perform a 3D simulation of the winds to quantify the power release by magnetic reconnection into the magnetosphere of the planet.