Release Images

Release No.: 2016-06
For Release: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 9:00am

Young Sun-like Star Shows a Magnetic Field Was Critical for Life on the Early Earth

Kappa Ceti

In this artist's illustration, the young Sun-like star Kappa Ceti is blotched with large starspots, a sign of its high level of magnetic activity. New research shows that its stellar wind is 50 times stronger than our Sun's. As a result, any Earth-like planet would need a magnetic field in order to protect its atmosphere and be habitable. The physical sizes of the star and planet and distance between them are not to scale.

M. Weiss/CfA

2.0-meter Bernard Lyot Telescope at Pic du Midi Observatory in France

Observations taken with the 2.0-meter Bernard Lyot Telescope at Pic du Midi Observatory in France show that Kappa Ceti is a Sun-like star with an age of 400 - 600 million years.

Jose-Dias Do Nascimento

magnetic field lines of the star Kappa Ceti

This computer model shows the magnetic field lines of the star Kappa Ceti as gray lines looping out from the star's surface. This young, Sun-like star generates a stellar wind 50 times stronger than our Sun's. As a result, any potentially habitable planet would need a magnetic field to protect its atmosphere.

CfA / Do Nascimento et. al. and TCD / A. Vidotto