An anonymous reader shares a report: Earthlings are lucky to live near a relatively stable Sun, which has enabled life on our planet to emerge and thrive over the past four billion years. While many worlds in our galaxy might contain the right ingredients to support life, though, a lot of them could be stuck with a more volatile star that prevents them from becoming — or remaining — habitable. To get a better grip on which types of star systems might be most likely to host aliens, a pair of scientists at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Center for Space Science have observed space weather around nearly 500 stars, according to a study published on Sunday in the journal Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. The results suggest that planets subjected to occasional but intense flares are probably more hospitable to life than worlds that receive a constant flux of radiation and low-energy flares, which blows their protective atmospheres away. Planetary habitability “is one of the most important concepts in exoplanet science” and “is defined as the zone around a star in which a planet is able to sustain liquid water on its surface,” said research scientist Dimitra Atri and graduate student Shane Carberry Mogan, both at NYUAD, in the study. “While this approach is useful to identify potentially hospitable planets around stars, it fails to take into account the damaging aspect of stellar activity on such planets,” the pair added. “The main goal of this paper is to understand how stellar luminosity and flares can lead to atmospheric escape on [habitable zone] planets on long time-scales and how these losses impact planetary habitability.”

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