Dynamos, the drivers of solar and stellar activity

Axel Brandenburg
Fecha y hora


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Following Cowling's anti-dynamo theorem of 1933, there was a long period during which the very existence of dynamos was unclear. Even with the emergence of three dimensional simulations in the late 1980s, people were careful to distinguish true dynamos from just some sort of amplification. Meanwhile, we know of many examples of true dynamos - not only from simulations, but also from several laboratory experiments. Nevertheless, there are still problems, fundamental ones and also very practical ones. After all, we are really not sure how the solar dynamo works. Today, global three-dimensional simulations seem to have an easier time to reproduce the behaviors of superactive stars, but not really the group of inactive stars, to which also the Sun belongs. The Sun itself may actually be special; it has so well defined cycles and it is at the brink of becoming very different. Theoretically, slightly slower rotators should have antisolar rotation, but it is possible that some of those stars never become that slow if stellar breaking ceases for some reason. Sun and starspots are very evident indicators of solar and stellar activity. Their formation is also not well understood. Polarimetry reveals their magnetic helicity, which can be detected even with the solar wind.