85) Solar Physics


What is Solar Physics? What are sunspots, how does the suns magnetism work, and how does this affect us? I was glad to welcome Dr. Maria Weber on The Way to talk about Coronal Mass Ejections, Solar Dynamo, Red Dwarfs and much much more.

Shortened Bio: My name is Maria Weber, and I'm an astrophysicist. I study the Sun and other cool, low-mass stars. Through computer models and simulations, I explore the processes taking place deep in stellar interiors, well beyond the reach of telescopes. These internal processes ultimately lead to the remarkable magnetism observed on stellar surfaces. In the case of our Sun, this magnetism is the source of the 'solar storms' that occasionally impact our planet, simultaneously wreaking havoc on earth-orbiting satellites while spawing beautiful aurora. We still don't have a complete theory to describe, and ultimately predict, the Sun's magnetic behavior. My work is an important piece of this intricate and complicated puzzle.

I began my career as a solar physicist. Recently, I have extended my work to include other cool, low-mass stars - from F-type stars as large as 140% of the Sun's mass to M-type (or red dwarf) stars as small as 10% of the Sun's mass. Red dwarfs are statistically the most abundant and magnetically active stars in our galaxy. Many of these stars have orbiting planets in the habitable zone, located at just the right distance from the host star to sustain liquid water. It is still unclear how these small stars build such strong magnetism, with energetic events often rivaling the magnetic storms of our own Sun. Tackling this problem is another crucial part of my on-going research.