The Sun in Time: Activity and Environment

Manuel Güdel
Paul Scherrer Institute, Würenlingen and Villigen,
CH-5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
and
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl 17,
D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany

'External link'http://www.astro.phys.ethz.ch/staff/guedel/guedel.html

Abstract

The Sun’s magnetic activity has steadily declined during its main-sequence life. While the solar photospheric luminosity was about 30% lower 4.6 Gyr ago when the Sun arrived on the main sequence compared to present-day levels, its faster rotation generated enhanced magnetic activity; magnetic heating processes in the chromosphere, the transition region, and the corona induced ultraviolet, extreme-ultraviolet, and X-ray emission about 10, 100, and 1000 times, respectively, the present-day levels, as inferred from young solar-analog stars. Also, the production rate of accelerated, high-energy particles was orders of magnitude higher than in present-day solar flares, and a much stronger wind escaped from the Sun, permeating the entire solar system. The consequences of the enhanced radiation and particle fluxes from the young Sun were potentially severe for the evolution of solar-system planets and moons. Interactions of high-energy radiation and the solar wind with upper planetary atmospheres may have led to the escape of important amounts of atmospheric constituents. The present dry atmosphere of Venus and the thin atmosphere of Mars may be a product of early irradiation and heating by solar high-energy radiation. High levels of magnetic activity are also inferred for the pre-main sequence Sun. At those stages, interactions of high-energy radiation and particles with the circumsolar disk in which planets eventually formed were important. Traces left in meteorites by energetic particles and anomalous isotopic abundance ratios in meteoritic inclusions may provide evidence for a highly active pre-main sequence Sun. The present article reviews these various issues related to the magnetic activity of the young Sun and the consequent interactions with its environment. The emphasis is on the phenomenology related to the production of high-energy photons and particles. Apart from the activity on the young Sun, systematic trends applicable to the entire main-sequence life of a solar analog are discussed.


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