Red Dwarf Dynamo Raises Puzzle over Interiors of Lowest
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Red Dwarf Dynamo Raises Puzzle over Interiors of Lowest Mass Stars

February 5, 2005
Before the Hubble observation of Gliese 752, astronomers thought magnetic fields in stars required the same dynamo process which creates magnetic fields on the Sun. In the classic solar model heat generated by nuclear fusion reactions at the star's center escapes through a radiative zone just outside the core. The heat travels from the radiative core to the star's surface through a convection zone. In this region, heat bubbles to the surface by motions similar to boiling in a pot of water.

Dynamos, which accelerate electrons to create magnetic forces, operate when the interior of a star rotates faster than the surface. Recent studies of the Sun indicate its convection zone rotates at nearly the same rate at all depths. This means the solar dynamo must operate in the more rapidly rotating radiative core just below the convective zone.

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