Astronomers may be able to learn much about the habitability of exoplanets by analyzing the X-rays emitted from the stars they are orbiting, according to a new study. A team of researchers used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton to study 24 stars that are similar to our Sun, each one at least one billion years old.
They studied how the stars’ X-ray brightness changed over time.
The X-rays emitted by stars mirror the magnetic activity of the stars, so studying X-rays can tell astronomers alot about the environment surrounding the star.
The study revealed that stars like the Sun and those that are less massive than the Sun calm down very quickly following a turbulent and energetic youth.
A tour around GJ 176. X-ray: NASA/CXC/Queens Univ. of Belfast/R.Booth, et al.; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss
In order to better understand how the magnetic activity of a star changes over time, scientists require accurate ages for many different stars.
Using studies of how stars pulsate, the team was able to acquire up-to-date age estimates for most of the 24 stars studied.