Sci-tech

Chandra X-ray Observatory aims to find exoplanets orbiting nearby stars

Nasa researchers using Chandra X-ray to establish whether or not exoplanet orbiting nearby stars could be habitable

By  Web Desk   |  
June 15, 2024
An illustration depicting exoplanets. — Unsplash/File

Some new research has been contributed by the astronomers using Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, as well as the European Space Agency’s XMM Newton as the search for life beyond Earth continues.

The astronomers are also hoping to bring forward the groundwork for future projects, reported Space.

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To study radiation emitted from nearby stars to establish whether or not an exoplanet orbiting those stars could be habitable, the researchers are using Chandra.

Notably, at high-enough levels, X-rays and ultraviolet light could damage an exoplanet's atmosphere, reducing the possibility of supporting life.

"Without characterising X-rays from its host star, we would be missing a key element on whether a planet is truly habitable or not," astronomer Breanna Binder of California State Polytechnic University, who led this exoplanet study, said adding: "We need to look at what kind of X-ray doses these planets are receiving."

Analysing the brightness and energies of their X-ray emissions, the team has studied 57 nearby stars so far, as well as how quickly their X-ray outputs change due to stellar flares.

"We have identified stars where the habitable zone’s X-ray radiation environment is similar to or even milder than the one in which Earth evolved," research scientist Sarah Peacock of University of Maryland, Baltimore County said in the statement. "Such conditions may play a key role in sustaining a rich atmosphere like the one found on Earth."


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