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Stellar Flares from Host Star Can Reduce the Habitability of Exoplanets, Says Study

Representational image of the solar system. [Image: Reuters]

Representational image of the solar system. [Image: Reuters]

They used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) observatory to present the process of analysing flare emissions.

New research based on the data procured by a team led by research scientist Dimitra Atri of the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) suggests that stars are most likely to be habitable exoplanets than other space bodies. The research is based on the calculated erosion rates of the planetary atmospheres.

The study was established in a paper presented by Atri and graduate fellow Shane Carberry Mogan titled as 'Stellar flares versus luminosity: XUV-induced atmospheric escape and planetary habitability'.

They used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) observatory to present the process of analysing flare emissions. It was published in the journal Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

The research team noticed that the high frequency of lower energy flares had a greater impact on the exoplanet’s atmosphere than less frequent higher energy flares. They also noted and determined how different types of star atmosphere’s produce extreme ultraviolet radiation (XUV) through stellar flares and its resultant effects on nearby planets.

Atri said, "Given the proximity of exoplanets to host stars, it is very important to understand how weather in space is tied to the events to those stars that can affect the scope of habitability of the exoplanet." He also pointed out that the next step in research would be to study the data from stellar flares from a host of stars to analyse the long-term effects of stellar activity to identify new exoplanets worthy of being habitable.

Atmospheric sustenance is one of the most important requirements of a habitable planet. The new research throws light on the exoplanet’s habitability as the effects of stellar activity are not very well understood yet. The study highlights the need for better numerical modelling of atmospheric escape. It also provides insights on how planets release atmospheric gases into space, as it leads to the erosion and diminishment of the planet’s habitability.


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