Artist's impression of Proxima-b orbiting its star. Photo: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Proxima-b, a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, a red star only 4 light-years from Earth, could support life despite being bombarded by high levels of radiation, according to new research.

What they found: While the amount of radiation bathing Proxima-b today is extreme by our current standards, that may not have been the case for Earth 4 billion years ago. Early in its history, our planet was blasted with more radiation than Proxima-b, and life still managed to develop.

What they did: The study modeled the radiation environments of planets orbiting red dwarf stars that are typically the source of extreme radiation.

  • According to the study, Proxima-b is bombarded with more than 200 times the X-ray radiation that Earth receives today.
  • That level of radiation was thought to mean certain death for living things on the world’s surface.

What they're saying: "The chances of finding life close to us around the closest stars that happen to be red young suns is much greater now, and so our quest to figure out whether we’re alone in the universe just got a tiny bit easier," Lisa Kaltenegger, one of the authors of the new study, said in a video.

Why it matters: Small, red stars are plentiful in our part of space, so if radiation isn't a dealbreaker for habitability, some of those relatively nearby worlds could host life, and it would make them candidates for followup study.

Go deeper: The interstellar object Oumuamua is almost certainly not an alien spaceship

Go deeper

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Wall Street fears meltdown over election and Supreme Court

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump's vow to name her replacement to the Supreme Court before November's election are amplifying Wall Street's worries about major volatility and market losses ahead of and even after the election.

The big picture: The 2020 election is the most expensive event risk on record, per Bloomberg — with insurance bets on implied volatility six times their normal level, according to JPMorgan analysts. And it could take days or even weeks to count the record number of mail-in ballots and declare a winner.

Election clues county by county

Ipsos and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics are out with an interactive U.S. map that goes down to the county level to track changes in public sentiment that could decide the presidential election.

How it works: The 2020 Political Atlas tracks President Trump's approval ratings, interest around the coronavirus, what's dominating social media and other measures, with polling updated daily — enhancing UVA's "Crystal Ball."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,605,656 — Total deaths: 970,934 Total recoveries: 21,747,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,897,432 — Total deaths: 200,814 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

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