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Stellar flares can lead to degradation of plant’s habitability

Date: 10 November 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

In new study researchers, have identified which stars were most likely to host habitable exoplanets based on the calculated erosion rates of the planetary atmospheres.

 

Background

The ability to sustain an atmosphere is one of the most important requirements for a habitable planet.

 

Details

  • It was found that more frequent, lower energy flares had a greater impact on an exoplanet's atmosphere than less frequent, higher energy flares.

  • The researchers also determined how different types of stars extreme ultraviolet radiation (XUV) through stellar flares, and how nearby planets are affected.

  • This study also highlights the need for better numerical modelling of atmospheric escape as it can lead to the erosion of atmosphere and the diminishment of the planet's habitability.

  • The next research step would be to expand data to analyze stellar flares from a larger variety of stars to see the long-term effects of stellar activity.

 

Stellar flares

Stellar flares are very likely to be fundamentally similar to solar flares in that they involve the sudden release of magnetic energy associated with currents flowing in their coronae. 

 

Solar flares

  • Solar flares are a sudden explosion of energy caused by tangling, crossing or reorganizing of magnetic field lines near sunspots.

  • Flares are closely associated with the ejection of plasmas and particles through the Sun's corona into outer space; flares also copiously emit radio waves.

  • If the ejection is in the direction of the Earth, particles associated with this disturbance can penetrate into the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) and cause bright auroras, and may even disrupt long range radio communication.

  • Flares occur when accelerated charged particles, mainly electrons, interact with the plasma medium. 

  • Solar flares strongly influence the local space weather in the vicinity of the Earth. They can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind or stellar wind, known as a solar particle event.

  • These particles can impact the Earth's magnetosphere and present radiation hazards to spacecraft and astronauts. 

  • They can trigger geomagnetic storms that have been known to disable satellites and knock out terrestrial electric power grids for extended periods of time.

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