06 Nov
Alien Life Could Be Destroyed by Young, Overheated Stars Alien Life Could Be Destroyed by Young, Overheated Stars

Alien Life Could Be Destroyed by Young, Overheated Stars

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A couple of Arizona State University astronomers recently observed a red dwarf star in the midst of a super flare, or violent outburst, which emitted a greater and more lethal dose of radiation than has ever been picked up from the sun. This event, as observed through the Hubble Telescope, indicates that forms of life on planets surrounding the dwarf star would likely not survive.

What's more, the astronomers contend that super flares of this kind tend to be more prevalent in red dwarfs that haven't been around for very long; their eruptions when young can be anywhere from 100 to 1000 times more powerful than when the stars mature.

Evgenya Shkolnik, an assistant professor in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, said in a press release, "Red dwarf stars are the smallest, most common and longest-lived stars in the galaxy. In addition, we think that most red dwarf stars have systems of planets orbiting them."

The flares are thought to receive their energy from concentrated magnetic fields that become intertwined bas a result of turbulent activity occurring in interstellar space. When things get very involved that way, the fields separate and latch together again, releasing significant degrees of energy.

As a result, blasts like these could shred planets of their protective atmospheres.

But since the dwarf stars can radiate energy for upwards of a trillion years, there's still hop that they could one day spare nearby life, says Shkolnik, adding, "They just have many more opportunities for life to evolve, given their longevity. I don't think we know for sure one way or another about whether planets orbiting red dwarfs are habitable just yet, but I think time will tell."


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Read 3194 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 October 2018 00:55
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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