The sort of small, young, active stars that have become most exciting to astronomers looking for exoplanets may actually push away precisely what could be necessary to carry water to those planets — leaving them too dry to support life.
That’s the suggestion of one recent study of just such a star, in the class astronomers call M dwarfs. The lead researcher presented an update about the project at a conference, where she stressed that the research was ongoing — but that it posed intriguing challenges to astronomers’ ideas about where to look for life.
“The show’s going to be basically over certainly by 30 million years,” Carol Grady, a scientist at Eureka Scientific, a company that hires and facilitates scientists applying for funding and instrument use as principal investigators, said during a news conference held Jan. 8 at the annual conference of the American Astronomical Society. “What this suggests is that processes which depend on disk survival may be inhibited in systems around young M stars, and this includes the delivery of water and organics to terrestrial-mass planets in the habitable zone.”