Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Zap! Sterilizing planets... sounds like fun

"Flares like this would deplete the atmospheres of life-bearing planets, sterilizing their surfaces."
This alarmist language nicely describes a rather catastrophic (and hence very interesting) and unusual stellar flare on the nearby Red Dwarf star EV Lacertae, detected on April 25th by NASA's Swift satellite.

The image is from the BBC comedy series Red Dwarf, which started well but got catastrophically bad as season after season dragged on (and yet was still too high brow for an American version to take off). Just like a real Red Dwarf, it seemed to live forever...

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