Recent exoplanet discoveries have been mounting in recent years, and when astronomers confirm the existence of another planet, there is always a direct interest in whether or not this planet can support life. For many newly discovered worlds, the answer is a fixed "no." They are either too hot, too cold or they are just big gas balls, but when it is discovered that a rocky world is just the right distance from her star remains the possibility of life.
A new research paper published in Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters explains how even some planets in the so-called "Goldilocks Zone" of their parent stars may be doomed to fate without the possibility of life as we do know, support.
For a planet to support life as we know it on Earth, it must have an atmosphere. It is believed that many young planets form atmospheres early on, which is good news for anyone hoping that humanity will one day find extraterrestrial life in the cosmos, but there is a catch.
Young planets are often in orbit around a young star. and scientists are beginning to realize how difficult it is for a planet to keep its atmosphere in the face of an active young star.
The article explains that there are plenty of M-Dwarf stars that are considered star types. The richest in our neck of the forest can make life very difficult for the planets orbiting them. In contrast to stars like our own sun, M-dwarf stars are particularly active at an early age and spend billions of years spewing out increased levels of X-rays and ultraviolet radiation.
This radiation can quickly strip a nearby planet of its atmosphere. In fact, even a planet with an Earth-like atmosphere within less than a million years could completely lose him if he or she orphaned a particularly active young star. For alien hunters, this is not good news, but it tells us a lot about how unique the earth really is, and it may limit our search for extraterrestrial life in the future.