Finals week has begun for me, so I will be crazy busy for the next two weeks…so I’m just going to ramble about something.
My current research is on M Dwarf stars, so I guess this is something I can tell you all about briefly. M Dwarf stars are stars much smaller than our own sun, typically around a tenth (.1) of a solar mass (the mass of the sun). As a smaller star, their luminosity (brightness) is also much less than our sun, because they burn less Hydrogen in their cores. Less burning means less power, and it also means lower temperature, and so they peak in the red or near infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. They have much less fuel to burn, but because they burn it so slowly, M Dwarfs can live for a trillion years (the Universe is only around 13-14 billion years old)!
M dwarfs are also the most common type of star in the whole Universe, making it a type of star we should focus on understanding. Recently, scientists have realized that we may have underestimated the number of M dwarfs in elliptical galaxies, and that there may be three times more than we thought. Additionally, these stars are very likely to have planets around them that could sustain life due to their long lifespan and other factors; the best known discovered exoplanets that might contain life have been found around these types of stars. My own research is about looking for a correlation between two features that could indicate youth in such stars (since it’s so hard to figure out the ages of stars without them being a part of some cluster). As we push the boundaries of what we know about these objects, we get closer to understanding our neighbors in the cosmos.