There are about seventy-five billion terrestrial planets in our one Milky Way galaxy with temperatures capable of supporting surface life. They tend to orbit stars called K and M dwarfs, which are lower in mass and temperature than our Sun. The stellar ultraviolet (UV) radiation from these stars is strong and highly variable, and their planets are exposed to “superflares” daily in their first ~300 Myr. Knowing the UV environments of planets of all sizes is crucial to understand their atmospheric composition and evolution. For temperate terrestrial planets, characterization of the UV provides a key parameter in a planet’s potential to be habitable and helps us to discriminate between biological and abiotic sources for observed biosignatures, gases we hope will be signs of life. Shkolnik will present their efforts to study the UV exoplanet environments using existing space telescopes and describing new efforts to build dedicated UV space telescopes specifically designed to provide key information needed to answer these questions:
Evgenya Shkolnik is a professor of astrophysics at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. She is an expert on exoplanets and stars, including the Sun. She studies stellar activity and star-planet interactions using telescopes on the ground and in space to answer questions involving stellar evolution and planetary habitability. Professor Shkolnik continues to execute new observations with existing telescopes both on the ground and in space. She is also now designing new small space telescopes dedicated to these experiments.
Professor Shkolnik's current research topics on Extrasolar Planetary Systems, Circumstellar Disks, CubeSat Astronomy include: