Science Reporting

Planets in habitable areas may not be suitable for life due to stellar radiation

Even if a planet is in the so-called “habitable zone,” it is not said that it can boast ideal conditions and not even sufficient for the existence of life because the star around which it revolves can “flood” it with periodic deadly radiation. What was a strong suspicion of astronomers and exobiologists was confirmed by a new study that appeared in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and conducted by Dimitra Atri, a scientist from the Center for Space Science Research at New York University.

The researcher confirmed, in his study, that planets can be subject and in general very sensitive to the so-called “flare,” real radiation explosions coming from the star that can put an end to practically any form of life (except perhaps to those that are used to frequent only underground). The only way for life to thrive even in the face of such radiation explosions is a sufficiently dense atmosphere or a good magnetic field, something that the Earth can boast of but which increasingly seem to be characteristics not typical of planets.

The researcher used data from 70 major radiation emission events from stars observed between 1956 and 2012. He then simulated on the computer the interaction of these “flares” with various types of exoplanetary atmospheres. The researcher came to the conclusion that these flares can massively increase the level of radiation on the planet’s surface interrupting the potentially inhabitable conditions and thus interfering with the possible existence of life itself.

The same simulation confirmed that atmospheric density and a possible magnetic field are the two main factors that can protect the planets’ surfaces from these violent jets of radiation. “As we continue to explore the planets of the solar system and beyond, finding out if these planets have the capacity to sustain life continues to be of immense importance,” reports Atri himself.