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Radiation Blasts Leaves Earth-Like Planets Uninhabitable

First Posted: Nov 18, 2015 10:30 AM EST

Researchers found that extreme amounts of radiation has resulted in a number of earth-like planets to becoming uninhabitable. The energy released from super-flares is almost identical to 100 billion megatons of TNT, according to a study at the University of Warwick in the UK.

The researchers found that the atmosphere on the planet Kepler-438b was destroyed by the radiation from a super-flaring red dwarf star, Kepler-438. Superflares have counterparts known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), which cause even more powerful flares. CMEs are capable of stripping down a planet's atmosphere, making it uninhabitable.

"Unlike the Earth's relatively quiet sun, Kepler-438 emits strong flares every few hundred days, each one stronger than the most powerful recorded flare on the sun," Dr. David Armstrong, lead author of the study, said in news release. "It is likely that these flares are associated with coronal mass ejections, which could have serious damaging effects on the habitability of the planet."

Kepler-438b has the most similarities to Earth in terms of size and atmosphere. However, it is closer to the red dwarf than Earth is to the Sun. Kepler-438b has a very small amount of atmosphere and it is affected by UV and X-ray radiation, which is damaging to any forms of life.

"If the planet, Kepler-438b, has a magnetic field like the Earth, it may be shielded from some of the effects," Armstrong said.

The findings of this study were published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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