Planetary Science & Space Physics

Space Weather

In 2011, the Spaceweather project (led by Roger Dube) extended its research activities into the area of slowly pulsating B (“SPB”) stars with the discovery of KEPLER 5941844 (see Figure above). Identified by REU summer student Greg Shute from Amherst College, the star’s photometric light curve displays clear indications of coupled oscillations between two masses. See the attached plot of the Kepler 5941844 light curve (file:coupledoscillations.jpg). Analysis of this oscillation yields a ratio of coupling coefficient to gravitational restoring force of 14.8%, and yields six additional oscillation frequencies.

Dube’s work on the observation of effects of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) striking a planet is continuing. He and Kastner are working to secure funding for Chandra and XMM archival research on previous Mars X-ray observations as well as Chandra X-ray Observatory observing time to re-observe Mars before, during, and after a CME strikes the planet. In parallel, under the supervision of O’Dea and Baum, graduate student David Saroff is studying images from the new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO; which looks at the sun full time, taking a picture every four seconds in various wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Saroff’s work is aimed in part at understanding the conditions under which CMEs occur.