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Red dwarfs are agro, bro!

Maybe red dwarfs aren’t so cool after all.

Did you know that up to 70% of the planets in the galaxy are red dwarfs?  Neither did we.  It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal though.  Red dwarfs are smaller and cooler than our sun and seem to have planets in the Goldilocks zone like they're going out of style.  But, astronomers have discovered that red dwarfs may be planet killers.  Like Napolean and small children, red dwarfs are prone to outbursts.  Only these outbursts aren’t the try and conquer Europe or having a tantrum because your parents don’t want to watch Minions for 37th-time variety rather a sterilizing assault of ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and solar winds.

Artist’s interpretation of LHS 3844 b, sans atmosphere and looking dead.

Artist’s interpretation of LHS 3844 b, sans atmosphere and looking dead.

Like us, astronomers hope to find habitable planets or planets that may support life, outside of this beautiful blue orb of ours.  Recent research of exoplanet LHS 3844 b has shown that it’s red dwarf star has annihilated its atmosphere.  Astronomers found that temperatures on this tidally locked planet can exceed a skin melting 750 degrees C on its dayside and drop to a “hey, you’re a popsicle” -250 degrees C on its darkside.  These temperatures wouldn’t be so extreme if there were an atmosphere to distribute the heat and cold.  But, alas, exoplanet LHS 3844 b’s star (aka The Sanitizer) has seared it away.  If all red dwarfs behave in such an unruly manner, the likelihood of finding life around them is grim.

But… it’s not all doom and gloom.  The Sanitizer is one star.  Exoplanet LHS 3844 b is tidally locked, much closer to its star than Earth, and completes an orbit at a breakneck 11 days.  So, we don’t have to abandon hope just yet. 

Learn more here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-mull-the-astrobiological-implications-of-an-airless-alien-planet/