Poster Abstracts

Name/Affiliation:  Evgenya Shkolnik (Lowell Observatory)

Title:  HAZMAT I: The Evolution of Ultraviolet Emission from Early M Stars

With the recent discoveries of several super-earths orbiting M dwarfs well within their habitable zones (0.1 to 0.4 AU), and with many more such planets to come, it is critical to assess the evolution of the high-energy radiation environment of these systems. We have begun the HAZMAT (HAbitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time) program by first measuring the drop in near-UV and far-UV flux in early M stars from 10 Myr to several Gyr using photometry from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX). We focus this study on the confirmed low-mass members of nearby young moving groups, the Hyades cluster, and old field stars. We show a relatively slow decline in UV flux up until at least 650 Myr with a sharper drop in the old M dwarfs. Yet without confirmed M dwarfs in nearby star clusters with ages of 1-2 Gyr, mapping the precise evolution at these older ages is not currently possible. The UV data also provide much-needed constraints to M dwarf upper-atmosphere models, which are currently insufficient for predicting UV emission from M dwarfs. Our analysis will aid empirically motivated upper-atmospheric modeling for the young and old M stars, which can then be used to predict the extreme-UV fluxes most critical to the evolution of a planetary atmosphere. The HAZMAT program is the first comprehensive study of the UV history of M stars.