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I am an astronomer and I work at ESO in Germany. My research interests are centred around stars like our Sun. I am especially interested in young stars that are precursors of our own Sun.

The first 100 million years of a star's life are instrumental in determining its final mass and temperature, how fast it rotates and the intensity of its magnetic activity. This is also the period over which its surrounding planetary system forms and evolves. To this day, the Sun's magnetic activity levels can affect the climate here on Earth.

However, the Sun is a relatively inactive star: young solar-type stars have magnetic activity levels between 100-1000 times those seen on the Sun. So how do young Suns influence the fledgling planetary systems that are forming around them? This is a key question that my research is addressing. In the process we will also learn the answers to some other mysteries, such as how the very intense magnetic fields are generated in young Suns, and what causes them to be heated to over 10 million degrees in their outermost coronae.

You can find some more details about my research interests and background below. I plan to include more information by and by so feel free to check back in later!

Research Interests

My research involves studying different aspects of solar-type stars.

Stellar imaging: I map the surfaces of young solar-type stars using indirect imaging techniques called Doppler imaging and Zeeman Doppler imaging. These imaging techniques are based on the same tomograpic principles used in medicine (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) and geography (e.g., seismic tomography). They enable us to reconstruct surface brightness maps and magnetic field maps of stars that are over 1500 light years away (approx. 460 parsecs or 1019 metres).

Spots on young stars:

The coronae of stars: I use X-ray data and modelling techniques to model the detailed structure of stellar corone in young stars (see Hussain et al. 2007) and a recent poster from the X-ray 2009 conference in Bologna. The inspiration for much of this work comes from work on the Sun. Solar physicists have been extrapolating solar surface magnetograms to model coronal properties of the Sun as observed in missions such as TRACE. My work exploits these methods in order to learn why the coronae of young stars are over 100 times more hot and active (with massive flares) than our own relatively sedate Sun. Are they scaled up versions of the Sun or do they have fundamentally different heating mechanisms?

Ultimately we hope to understand how they interact with and affect the formation and evolution of their surrounding planets.

Rotation in very young stars: We know very little about magnetic fields in very young stars (1-10 Myr old stars called T Tauri stars), yet they are of key importance when explaining the fundamental properties of young stars. For instance, the rotational evolution of young stars is explained by the interaction of T Tauri coronal magnetic fields with their surrounding disks. However, there are relatively few measurements of rotation rates for stars that are very highly variable at X-ray wavelengths. I am using VLT data to conduct a survey of rotational velocities and to classify the spectral types of X-ray active stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster in order to test theoretical predictions about the effect that the stellar temperature (and therefore its structure) and its rotation rate has on the intense observed X-ray activity from these stars.

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Curriculum Vitae

Briefly, my research career can be summarised as follows:

Astronomer at ESO

Research Fellow at University of St Andrews

European Space Agency Research Fellow

Harvard Smithsonian CfA Fellow

PhD in Astronomy from the University of St Andrews

If you would like to know more and see my list of publications please check out my current Curriculum Vitae . My most recent publications will also be available here as soon as they are accepted.

Contact Details
Gaitee Hussain
Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2
Garching bei Muenchen
D-85748 Germany
E-mail: ghussain

last updated: 2009.01.21