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Alpha Centauri, a neighboring stellar system that contains the three nearest star beyond the sun, is one of the key places where astronomers have been searching for life outside the solar system.

NASA now revealed that data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that the system, located about 4 light-years away from Earth, is more habitable to life than initially thought.

Scientists believed that the triple star system is so inundated with harmful x-ray radiations, which stymies hopes for habitability around still-to-be-discovered planets.

X-rays and related space weather may have a detrimental effect on unprotected life in these alien worlds. In the case of planet Mars, for instance, high doses of radiation stripped away the planet's atmosphere.

"Exoplanets of other sunlike stars can be exposed to analogous extreme high-energy transients from their hosts, with perhaps serious repercussions for habitability," Tom Ayres, of the University of Colorado Boulder, wrote in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society.

Observations spanning more than a decade suggest that any planets orbiting the two brightest stars in the Alpha Centauri system are not likely bombarded by large amounts of x-ray radiation from their parent stars.

"Chandra shows us that life should have a fighting chance on planets around either of these stars," said Ayres.

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Category: Science