Starquakes Might Solve the Mysteries of Stellar Magnetism

The original version of this story appeared in Quanta Magazine.

Our planet is doomed. In a few billion years, the sun will exhaust its hydrogen fuel and swell into a red giant—a star so big it will scorch, blacken and swallow up the inner planets.

While red giants are bad news for planets, they’re good news for astrophysicists. Their hearts hold the keys to understanding a range of stellar bodies, from fledgling protostars to zombie white dwarfs, because deep within them lies an invisible force that can shape a star’s destiny: the magnetic field.

Magnetic fields near the surfaces of stars are often well characterized, but what’s happening in their cores is

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