Space Weather & Heliophysics

Effect Of Stellar Flares on Planetary Habitability

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 3, 2020
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Effect Of Stellar Flares on Planetary Habitability
Stellar flares

Scientists funded in part by the NASA Astrobiology program are providing new insights into how terrestrial planets are affected by coronal mass ejections (CMEs) early in the formation of a stellar system.

As planets form, there are many factors that help to shape their potential habitability. For instance, energetic flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from young stars can affect conditions in the atmosphere of planets that promote the formation of molecules relevant to biology.

The team used the star k 1 Ceti as a case study. This star is thought to be similar to the young Sun, and the magnetic field of k 1 Ceti has been reconstructed using observational data. The newly developed model provides insight into how frequently early Venus, Earth, and Mars would have been hit by CMEs from the Sun. The results have implications in the study of prebiotic chemistry on young terrestrial-type planets.

The study, “Frequency of Coronal Mass Ejection Impacts with Early Terrestrial Planets and Exoplanets around Active Solar-like Stars,” was published in the The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The work was supported by NASA Astrobiology through the Exobiology Program. This newly-revealed science is also a critical part of NASA’s work to understand the Universe, advance human exploration, and inspire the next generation. As NASA’s Artemis program moves forward with human exploration of the Moon, the search for life on other worlds remains a top priority for the agency.

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻