According to a research by the astronomers from the University of Washington, planets similar to Earth that are orbiting smaller stars could have magnetic fields that act as a barrier that protects them from radiation, helping them maintain conditions that could be leading to the apparition of life.
Magnetic fields are produced by a planet’s core and is known to deflected the stellar radiation particles coming from space. Basically, magnetic fields are protecting a planet’s atmosphere from being the same as cosmic space. These fields appear when a planet’s core starts cooling. Earth’s magnetic radiation is currently protecting us from stellar radiation – in this case, the Sun’s.
The universe is filled with stars smaller than the Sun. All the planets that are orbiting around these stars are much easier to be studied by astronomers, since when they pass in the front of their stars they tend to block a much larger amount of light coming from their host star. This makes it easier for researchers to see these planets’ surface. The only problem is that because these stars are so small, their light is also more dim.
Usually, space objects that are orbiting too close to their host star are also pulled by the star’s gravitational field. These objets tend to face the star with the same side for the rest of their life. One familiar example is the moon and the Earth. Our natural aways faces us with the same side.
Because these planets are always facing their stars with their same size, the phenomenon called tidal heating is born. This phenomenon is caused by the heat inside of a planet, and it is responsible for the volcanic activity of the affected space objects. For instance, Jupiter’s moon Io, which is the most volcanically active object in your solar system.
Researchers tried to determine whether these planets could be inhabited by humans some centuries in the future. In order to determine if the planets are roasted by tidal heating, they produced a realistic simulation of what is actually happening in these planets.
They have discovered that tidal heating actually helped these planets magnetic field to fight radiations, hence, increasing the chance for supporting life. They have explained that the stronger tidal heating is, the better will dissipate the solar heat, therefore cooling the planet’s core and creating the magnetic field.
Researchers that the phenomenon is currently developing on Venus, where the progressive cooling is currently encouraging the birth of a magnetic field.
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