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Flarescope: Dedicated Multi-wavelength Observations of Nearby, Sun-like Stars

Presentation #107.03 in the session Vis-IR Facilities and Instruments.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Flarescope: Dedicated Multi-wavelength Observations of Nearby, Sun-like Stars

Many stars with convective envelopes (F, G, K, and M dwarfs) are known to be magnetically active. For the Sun, this magnetic activity manifests in the form of flares and flare-related phenomena that are observable across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The most energetic of these events and the associated accelerated particles can have crucial impacts on space weather and consequently the habitability of nearby planets. While the magnetic cycle of the Sun is well characterized and flares can be anticipated by monitoring sunspots, the aperiodic nature of flares and usually low bolometric contrast makes them difficult to detect via continuum emission on sun-like stars. Additionally, the relation between flare events and bulk plasma motion in the form of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and solar energetic particle events (SEPs) is not well understood, especially since detections of stellar equivalents for such events are either rare or non-existent. Making detections of stellar flares and bulk particle motion then necessitates long-term, high-sensitivity, as well as multi-wavelength observations. To satisfy these conditions, we have begun developing Flarescope: a small, fully-automated optical telescope dedicated to continuous monitoring of nearby, sun-like stars with sub-millimag photometric precision. Because particularly energetic solar flares have a strong correlation with CMEs and SEPs which drive Type II and III radio bursts, this observatory will work in a coordinated fashion with the Long Wavelength Array (LWA) at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO). The Stage III expansion of the LWA will not only introduce higher sensitivity and resolution, but will allow for beamformed observations with ms time resolution. This capability will be key for resolving structure of stellar-equivalent Type III bursts in dynamic spectra and hence in identifying possible SEPs. Because of this, a beam from the LWA at OVRO will be dedicated to observing targets in tandem with Flarescope. An energetic stellar flare in the optical that is coincident with a burst at metric wavelengths provides unique insight to the nature of the flare event, the stellar plasma density profile and properties of bulk plasma motion, and the impact that such events have on the stellar environment. Here, we present the preliminary design of the Flarescope observatory, the observation criteria and initial target sample, and the current status of Flarescope and the LWA at OVRO.


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