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Flagstaff, AZ, United States

Shkolnik E.L.,Lowell Observatory | Barman T.S.,University of Arizona
Astronomical Journal | Year: 2014

The spectral energy distribution, variability, and evolution of the high-energy radiation from an M dwarf planet host is crucial in understanding the planet's atmospheric evolution and habitability and in interpreting the planet's spectrum. The star's extreme-UV (EUV), far-UV (FUV), and near-UV (NUV) emission can chemically modify, ionize, and erode the atmosphere over time. This makes determining the lifetime exposure of such planets to stellar UV radiation critical for both the evolution of a planet's atmosphere and our potential to characterize it. Using the early M star members of nearby young moving groups, which sample critical ages in planet formation and evolution, we measure the evolution of the GALEX NUV and FUV flux as a function of age. The median UV flux remains at a "saturated" level for a few hundred million years, analogous to that observed for X-ray emission. By the age of the Hyades Cluster (650 Myr), we measure a drop in UV flux by a factor of 2-3 followed by a steep drop from old (several Gyrs) field stars. This decline in activity beyond 300 Myr follows roughly t-1. Despite this clear evolution, there remains a wide range, of 1-2 orders of magnitude, in observed emission levels at every age. These UV data supply the much-needed constraints to M dwarf upper-atmosphere models, which will provide empirically motivated EUV predictions and more accurate age-dependent UV spectra as inputs to planetary photochemical models. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source


Schleicher D.G.,Lowell Observatory
Astronomical Journal | Year: 2010

We have carried out calculations of the fluorescent equilibrium of the CN molecule in the solar radiation field as a function of heliocentric radial velocity and distance. The detailed rotational line intensities of the CN violet 0-0 band have been recalculated for radial velocities between - 60 and +60 km s-1 and at 10 distances in steps of s/l from 0.25 to 5.7 AU. Comparisons with observed CN violet 0-0 band profiles yield reasonable agreement and remaining discrepancies are well understood. Based on the derived equilibrium rotational level populations of the ground state, 1-1 band rotational line intensities were also calculated. Total band fluorescence efficiencies for the violet δv = 0 sequence are tabulated for the above range of distances and velocities, permitting the interpolation to any given comet's observational circumstances. These fluorescence efficiencies, L/N, or "g-factors," needed to reduce CN emission band fluxes to CN abundances, are also accessible via a Web-based service. The values at any heliocentric distance vary by about a factor of two with varying velocities, but the specific structure of this variation with velocity changes dramatically with distance. © 2010. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved,. Source


Knight M.M.,Lowell Observatory | Knight M.M.,Johns Hopkins University | Battams K.,U.S. Navy
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2014

We present photometric and morphological analysis of the behavior of sungrazing comet C/2012 S1 ISON in Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) images around its perihelion on 2013 November 28.779 UT. ISON brightened gradually November 20-26 with a superimposed outburst on November 21.3-23.5. The slope of brightening changed about November 26.7 and was significantly steeper in SOHO's orange and clear filter images until November 27.9 when it began to flatten out, reaching a peak about November 28.1 (rH ≈ 17 R), then fading before brightening again from November 28.6 (r H ≈ 5 R) until disappearing behind the occulting disk. ISON brightened continuously as it approached perihelion while visible in all other telescopes/filters. The central condensation disappeared about November 28.5 and the leading edge became progressively more elongated until perihelion. These photometric and morphological behaviors are reminiscent of the tens of meter-sized Kreutz comets regularly observed by SOHO and STEREO and strongly suggest that the nucleus of ISON was destroyed prior to perihelion. This is much too small to support published gas production rates and implies significant mass loss and/or disruption in the days and weeks leading up to perihelion. No central condensation was seen post-perihelion. The post-perihelion lightcurve was nearly identical in all telescopes/filters and fell slightly steeper than . This implies that the brightness was dominated by reflected solar continuum off of remnant dust in the coma/tail and that any remaining active nucleus was <10 m in radius. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.. Source


Levesque E.M.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Massey P.,Lowell Observatory
Astronomical Journal | Year: 2012

We present moderate-resolution spectroscopic observations of red supergiants (RSGs) in the low-metallicity Local Group galaxies NGC6822 (Z = 0.4 Z ⊙) and Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte (WLM; Z = 0.1 Z ⊙). By combining these observations with reduction techniques for multislit data reduction and flux calibration, we are able to analyze spectroscopic data of 16 RSGs in NGC6822 and spectrophotometric data of 11 RSGs in WLM. Using these observations, we determine spectral types for these massive stars, comparing them to Milky Way and Magellanic Cloud RSGs and thus extending observational evidence of the abundance-dependent shift of RSG spectral types to lower metallicities. In addition, we have uncovered two RSGs with unusually late spectral types (J000158.14-152332.2 in WLM, with a spectral type of M3 I, and J194453.46-144552.6 in NGC6822, with a spectral type of M4.5 I) and a third RSG (J194449.96-144333.5 in NGC6822) whose spectral type has varied from an M2.5 in 1997 to a K5 in 2008. All three of these stars could potentially be members of a recently discovered class of extreme RSG variables. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source


Roe H.G.,Lowell Observatory
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences | Year: 2012

Conditions in Titan's troposphere are near the triple point of methane, the second most abundant component of its atmosphere. Our understanding of Titan's lower atmosphere has shifted considerably in the past decade. Ground-based observations, Hubble Space Telescope images, and data returned from the Cassini and Huygens spacecraft show that Titan's troposphere hosts a methane-based meteorology in direct analogy to the water-based meteorology of Earth. What once was thought to be a quiescent place, lacking in clouds or localized weather and changing only subtly on long seasonal timescales, is now understood to be a dynamic system with significant weather events regularly occurring against the backdrop of dramatic seasonal changes. Although the observational record of Titan's weather covers only a third of its 30-year seasonal cycle, Titan's atmospheric processes appear to be more closely analogous to those of Earth than to those of any other object in our solar system. © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

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