Habitable Planets Made Uninhabitable by Stars’ Radiation Bursts

Finding exoplanets is perhaps the most precocious achievement the humans have ever made. The astronomic field is thrilled to report new findings continually, but this particular success is viewed as one of the most significant progress in contemporary astronomy.

These terrestrial exoplanets orbit stars from outside the Solar System, and are located in the stars’ habitable zones. This is the place where planets are thought to contain liquid water on their surface and are also possible life environments.

However, new research says that an exoplanet based at close proximity to its host star is extremely susceptible to radiation beams, or flares, that come from the star. The new paper is written by Dimitra Atri, NYUAD Center for Space Science Research Scientist, and notes that not all exoplanets located in habitable zones are yielding to host life. Exoplanets close to the stars are the victim of radiation bursts, which can affect the habitable environments of the exoplanet lacks atmospheric or magnetic shielding.

Flares can Increase the Radiation Level

The paper, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, depicts how flares from stars affect a planet’s surface radiation dose, and whether it can or cannot alter a planet’s ability to host life. Atri has also observed the role of a planet’s magnetic field strength and its atmosphere in providing protection from these bursts. 

The factors taken into consideration include flare strength and spectrum, and the planetary atmospheric density and magnetic field strength. The paper author put to use particle spectra provided by 70 significant events in order to measure the surface radiation dose, as well as the GEANT4 Monte Carlo model, which was supposed to replicate flare interaction with exoplanetary atmospheres.

The study has proved that flares can abruptly increase the radiation quantity on planetary surfaces and can also alter potentially habitable settings on planets. It was also demonstrated that atmospheric depth, or column density, as well as the planetary magnetic field, are playing an important role in protecting planets from flares and keeping a strong planetary atmosphere.

Atri said: “As we continue to explore the planets of the solar system and beyond, discovering if these planets have the ability to support life continues to be of immense importance. More progress in this area will improve our understanding of the relationship between extreme solar events, radiation dose, and planetary habitability.”

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