The hunt for habitable planets continues as scientists wonder now how hospitable are actually the red dwarfs.
These cosmic features are one of the long-lasting and most common stars in the Milky Way, and they could hide more secrets than previously believed.
Here is what you need to know.
Barnard’s Star Under Investigation: Searching For Habitable Planets
A team of scientists used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope to analyze one of the closest stars to Earth.Â
The star in question, dubbed Barnard’s Star, is only 6 light-years away from our planet and is a red dwarf that gradually burns through its fuel supply. As per astronomers’ findings, this star can last much more than medium-type stars like the Sun. And that’s not all.
The Barnard’s Star is also around 10 billion years old, which is genuinely intriguing considering is twice the age of our Sun.
The team examined how flares from an old red dwarf might influence any planets orbiting it. What they found is fantastic.
The Chandra data revealed an X-ray flare, while Hubble showed two unique ultraviolet high-energy flares. This data helped the team determine that the star shoots potentially destructive flares almost 25 % of the time.
Such a thing would totally erode any atmosphere formed early in the life of a habitable-area planet, so the chances for a habitable planet are pretty much inexistent.
Of course, a planet’s atmosphere might regenerate as the star becomes less active with age, but that’s not Barnard’s Star’ case anyway, considering the star’s power.
Also, the explosion of powerful flares has been repeated over hundreds of millions of years so that any regenerated atmosphere wouldn’t stand a chance.
Currently, the team is examining high-energy radiation from many more red dwarfs to find out whether Barnard’s Star is typical.