Friday, January 14, 2011

Solar flares on dwarf stars could threaten alien life

... Red dwarf stars have surprisingly frequent flare-ups, scientists say, and these solar flares' effects could be deadly to life on nearby planets.

The largest flares unleash streams of particles that could play havoc with planets' atmospheres - or inhabitants.

A study of 200,000 red dwarfs - the most common type of star in our galaxy - turned up many flares of all sizes.

Scientists at the American Astronomical Society meeting said that could pose a risk to any life orbiting dwarfs.

The result is particularly relevant given the recent discovery that the Universe hosts three times as many red dwarf stars than previously thought.

So while the number of exoplanets is rising rapidly, with an implicit hope to find planets with conditions suitable for life, many questions remain about the very long-term habitability that the Earth has enjoyed. ...

"Such powerful flares bode ill for any possible biology, life, on any planet that happens to be close to that flaring star." ...

"It's extraordinary to think that the most numerous stars, the smallest ones in our galaxy, pose this threat to life."

via BBC News - Solar flares on dwarf stars could threaten alien life.

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