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Stellar Rotation and Magnetic Activity: Impact on the Habitable Zone

Gabriela Lapa

In 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered the first exoplanet around a solar-like star, earning them the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Since then, over 5000 exoplanets have been identified, fueling the search for extraterrestrial life.
To study habitability, researchers consider the habitable zone, an area around a star where a rocky planet could have liquid water. However, this definition doesn't account for stellar rotation and magnetic activity, crucial factors for a planet's habitability.
This study combines observational and theoretical components. The observational part analyzes Kepler light curves for about 2000 stars, focusing on Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) with multiple planetary systems or single systems with one candidate planet. Light curve calibration and correction ensure data accuracy, revealing insights into stars' rotation and magnetic activity.
The theoretical aspect creates two stellar evolution models for stars showing rotational modulation (332 stars): one considers rotation, while the other ignores it. Comparing these models reveals the significance of stellar rotation and activity in the habitable zone.
Stars with higher photometric magnetic activity have a more pronounced impact on the habitable zone, especially the fastest-rotating ones.
Incorporating rotation into the models moves the habitable zone closer to the star, and narrows it down. The inner habitable zone is more affected by stellar rotation and magnetic activity.
Both stellar rotation and magnetic activity significantly influence habitable zone boundaries. While their impact might not be immediately obvious with the conventional definition, considering magnetic activity is crucial in the search for life, especially given the effects of space weather not covered in this study.

2023 October 19, 13:30

Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto (Classroom)
Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia