Exploring Exoplanets and their Stars with the UV Space Telescopes of the Past, Present and Future

Wed 8 May 2019

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
3700 San Martin Drive
Baltimore, MD 21218


2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Contact Information:

Have questions? Please contact Jason Tumlinson.


Speaker: Evgenya Shkolnik (Arizona State University)

Roughly seventy-five billion low-mass stars (a.k.a. M dwarfs) in our galaxy host at least one small planet in the habitable zone (HZ). The stellar ultraviolet (UV) radiation from M dwarfs is strong and highly variable, and impacts planetary atmospheric loss, composition and habitability. These effects are amplified by the extreme proximity of their HZs. Knowing the UV environments of M dwarf planets of all sizes will is crucial to understand their atmospheric composition and evolution, providing the needed context for measured exoplanet spectra; while for HZ terrestrial planet, characterization of the UV provides a key parameter in a planet’s potential to be habitable and discriminating between biological and abiotic sources for observed biosignatures. Our efforts to study the UV photometrically and spectroscopically of such planetary systems employ past, present and future space telescopes: the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and the upcoming NASA-funded Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS), due for launch at the end of 2021. SPARCS will be a 6U CubeSat completely devoted to continuous photometric monitoring of M stars, measuring their variability, flare rates and evolution, while also being a pathfinder for much-needed UV small satellites. 


All 2019 Spring Colloquia talks are held on Wednesdays in the STScI John N. Bahcall Auditorium at 3:00 p.m. preceded by tea at 2:45 p.m.

Please direct questions or comments to the contact above. The 2019-20 committee members are Paule Sonnentrucker (STScI Chair), Annalisa Calamida (STScI), Will Fischer (STScI), Ethan Vishniac (JHU Co-chair), Kevin Schlaufman (JHU), and Graeme Addison (JHU).