Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars — easily the most common stars in the universe — are prime targets in the search for extraterrestrial life. But new research led by an astronomy graduate student indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.
“Planets around these stars can form within 10 million years, so they are around when the stars are still extremely bright. And that’s not good for habitability, since these planets are going to initially be very hot, with surface temperatures in excess of a thousand degrees. When this happens, your oceans boil and your entire atmosphere becomes steam.”
Also boding ill for the atmospheres of these worlds is the fact that M dwarf stars emit a lot of X-ray and ultraviolet light, which heats the upper atmosphere to thousands of degrees and causes gas to expand so quickly it leaves the planet and is lost to space, Luger said.
“So, many of the planets in the habitable zones of M dwarfs could have been dried up by this process early on, severely decreasing their chance of actually being habitable.”
Read it and bleep.
See also: “Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …”
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