Some of the smallest stars in our Galaxy, with masses as low as one tenth of our Sun, can produce flares that are ten thousand times more powerful than Solar flares. These flares impact the atmospheres, habitability, and even the formation of their surrounding planets.
In the 1970’s it was demonstrated that optical flares could be accompanied by bright, very low frequency radio flares. However, modern low frequency radio telescopes, such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), have only detected faint radio flares and it is uncertain if they are truly associated with optical flares.
The MWA is a low frequency radio telescope operating in Western Australia that has an extremely large field of view (~1000 deg2). This ensures thousands of radio sources are observed within a single pointing, including nearby magnetically active flare stars.
In this project you will develop an automatic tool for selecting MWA observations that were serendipitously observing magnetically active stars while they were undergoing bright optical flaring events. You will identify these optical flares in light curves generated from surveys conducted by SkyMapper and the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae. You will then use pipelined processing tools to search for associated low frequency radio flares in these MWA observations.
Dr Paul Hancock
Early Career Research Fellow, Space Detective (Formerly)Read More