Science@Cal: “Magnetic Stars, Space Weather and Life: Stellar Activity and its Effect on Planets” – 06.19.10

by Eric on June 18, 2010

This month’s Science@Cal lecture will feature Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, Kepler Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley speaking on the topic of “Magnetic Stars, Space Weather and Life: Stellar Activity and its Effect on Planets:”

Sunspots are some of the oldest astronomical phenomena observed by human beings. These “freckles” on the the face of our Sun may look innocuous, but they are actually the footprints of huge magnetic loops that protrude from our star. These loops sometimes twist and snap, causing spectacular solar flares that send radiation and energetic particles hurtling towards Earth. These flares are responsible for beautiful aurorae, but they can also cause the troubling disruption of satellites and other infrastructure. Similar phenomena are observed on many other stars in our Galaxy, with some stellar flares being even more powerful than those of the Sun. What is it like to be a planet around those stars? How do flares and starspots affect a planet’s ability to support and sustain life? These are just some of the questions we will explore.

The talk will be in the Genetic and Plant Biology Building, Room 100. These talks are pretty well attended so get there when the doors open at 10:30am.

Now, if you can’t make it, the talk will be live-streamed via UStream at You’ll find previous talks archived there as well.

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