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Life looks ‘more likely’ around Alpha Centauri

7 Jun 2018, 10:54 UTC
Life looks ‘more likely’ around Alpha Centauri
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Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to Earth, being only four light-years away. Image credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2
New research by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has shown promising signs for planetary habitability in the nearest star system to our own, Alpha Centauri. After observing binary system for more then a decade, researchers have encouraging news about a key aspect for habitability, pertaining to the X-ray radiation thrown out by its stellar members. X-rays and intense space weather are harmful to life as it strips away a planet’s atmosphere, but Chandra has revealed that radiation is likely to be low on any worlds in the system.
Alpha Centauri is a triple star system that is only four light years away (25 trillion miles) away from Earth. This is an incredibly short distance in terms of the scale of the universe. “Because it is relatively close, it’s seen by many as the best candidate to explore for signs of life,” says Tom Ayres of the University of Colorado Boulder. “The question is, will we find planets in an environment conducive to life as we know it?”
Alpha Centauri includes a stellar pair separately referred to as ‘A’ and ‘B’, although ...

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