Some stars are stripping their planets’ atmospheres — a new NASA telescope image indicates when

Young stars they can extinguish the atmospheres of their planets. A new Chandra X-ray Observatory Recently, astronomers have made progress in their investigation of the power of these stars.

To learn about these magnetically active stars, billions of years younger than the Sun and capable of zapping their planets, the researchers used open clusters. They house thousands of stars. Their shared age and environment lays the groundwork for a good analysis of their lives and evolution.

The best tool that Konstantin Getman, a research professor at Penn State University, and his colleagues had to use was Chandra. That’s because stars with higher magnetic field activity appear brighter in X-rays, according to a Dec. 15 NASA announcement. They also tapped data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, currently on a quest to survey a billion stars in our galaxy. It helped Getman’s team ascertain which stars belonged to the clusters and which were just foreground and background optical aberrations.

NASA’s announcement highlights one of 10 different open clusters studied by the team, called NGC 3293. This region looks almost like a flower, as pink material, visible in the infrared, fans like blooming petals. In a composite image from NASA, the bright sepal — the bright purple points in the center of the image — is the X-ray data.

It turns out that stars stop being babies after about 7 million years. NASA/CXC/Penn State Univ./K. Getman et al.; Infrared: ESA/NASA JPL-Caltech/Herschel Space Observatory/JPL/IPAC; NASA’s JPL-Caltech/SSC/Spitzer Space Telescope. Optics: MPG/ESO/G. Beccari

After analyzing stars in these clusters, as well as some extremely young 500,000-year-old stars from previous Chandra studies, Getman’s team reached some conclusions.

According to NASA, the team found that the brightness of X-rays from Sun-like stars decreases when they are 7 million years old. The star cluster NGC 3293 is in this transition stage.

Before this milestone, young stars were “turbulent” and capable of “stopping the growth of planets,” NASA wrote.

And some stars in this enchanting scene are still “extremely active”. X-rays and ultraviolet radiation from these stars could sweep planetary building blocks from the space around them. The radiation could also vaporize a planet’s atmosphere, either partially or completely.

So the verdict is that this luscious tent is no place to live.

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