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There’s a red dwarf about 35 light-years from here that’s spewing powerful, life crushing solar flares into space. These types of stellar objects are fairly common, leading to speculation that our galaxy is less habitable than we thought.

Of the estimated 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, about three-quarters are red dwarfs. That’s obviously a lot, so suffice it to say, these cool, compact stars are important objects of inquiry among both astronomers and astrobiologists. If we’re to get a handle on our galaxy’s potential to spark and sustain life, we’ll need to understand where red dwarfs fit in the equation.

Discouragingly, a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal suggests that planets in orbit around red dwarfs may be subject to tremendously powerful and frequent solar flares, making it difficult—if not impossible—for life to emerge in such systems.

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