Dr. Schmidt studies the lowest mass and most numerous types of stars in our Galaxy – the M and L dwarfs. These types of cool stars have strong magnetic fields on their surfaces which results in special kinds of extra light from the stars, including dramatic flare events, which Dr. Schmidt works to observe and understand.
Within the SDSS collaboration, Dr. Schmidt has worked or is working on observing cool stars using spectroscopy from several different surveys:
1. A study of ultracool dwarfs with data from a BOSS (Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey) ancillary project
2. A TDSS (Time Domain Spectroscopic Survey) project looking at long timescale magnetic field variations on late-M and early-L dwarfs
3. Studying the colors of late-K and early-M dwarfs with measurements of temperature and metallicity from spectroscopic observations taken for the APOGEE survey.
This can all be summarised as spectroscopy of the lowest mass stars there are, and Sarah is most interested in using these to constrain the stars ages and how this relates to their magnetic activity.
We hope you’ll join the conversation with Sarah and other SDSS scientists on twitter this week so we can all learn more about the magnetic fields of the smallest stars in the Universe.