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Space weather discovery puts 'habitable planets' at risk

A discovery that links stellar flares with radio-burst signatures will make it easier for astronomers to detect space weather around nearby stars outside the Solar System. Unfortunately, the first weather reports from our nearest neighbour, Proxima Centauri, are not promising for finding life as we know it.

"Astronomers have recently found there are two 'Earth-like' rocky planets around Proxima Centauri, one within the 'habitable zone' where any water could be in liquid form," said Andrew Zic from the University of Sydney.

"But given Proxima Centauri is a cool, small red-dwarf star, it means this habitable zone is very close to the star; much closer in than Mercury is to our Sun," he said.

"What our research shows is that this makes the planets very vulnerable to dangerous ionising radiation that could effectively sterilise the planets."

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