Welcome to my website! My name is Maria Weber, and I’m an astrophysicist. I study the Sun and other cool, low-mass stars. Through computer models and simulations, I explore the processes taking place deep in stellar interiors, well beyond the reach of telescopes. These internal processes ultimately lead to the remarkable magnetism observed on stellar surfaces. In the case of our Sun, this magnetism is the source of the ‘solar storms’ that occasionally impact our planet, simultaneously wreaking havoc on earth-orbiting satellites while spawing beautiful aurora. We still don’t have a complete theory to describe, and ultimately predict, the Sun’s magnetic behavior. My work is an important piece of this intricate and complicated puzzle.
I began my career as a solar physicist. Recently, I have extended my work to include other cool, low-mass stars – from F-type stars as large as 140% of the Sun’s mass to M-type (or red dwarf) stars as small as 10% of the Sun’s mass. Red dwarfs are statistically the most abundant and magnetically active stars in our galaxy. Many of these stars have orbiting planets in the habitable zone, located at just the right distance from the host star to sustain liquid water. It is still unclear how these small stars build such strong magnetism, with energetic events often rivaling the magnetic storms of our own Sun. Tackling this problem is another crucial part of my on-going research.
Starting October 2017, I began my tenure as an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow. This fellowship has taken me to the Chicagoland area, where I split my time between the University of Chicago and Adler Planetarium.
In addition to my research, I enjoy teaching, outreach, traveling, arts-n-crafting, and drinking way too much coffee. Sometimes I write blogs for various websites here and there, for example this feature for Womanthology. I’m new to website creation, so I’ll be slowly adding new content.
If you would like to use images, text, or resources from my website, please do cite it appropriately. If you have any feedback about my website, find something particularly useful, or have general questions or inquiries, feel free to get in touch! Use maweber at uchicago dot edu.
“Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, the University of Chicago, or Adler Planetarium.”