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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

Scoop: FDA chief called to West Wing

Stephen Hahn. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing for a 9:30am meeting Tuesday to explain why he hasn't moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, two senior administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting is shaping up to be tense, with Hahn using what the White House will likely view as kamikaze language in a preemptive statement to Axios: "Let me be clear — our career scientists have to make the decision and they will take the time that’s needed to make the right call on this important decision."

Scoop: Schumer's regrets

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images   

Chuck Schumer told party donors during recent calls that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fact that Cal Cunningham "couldn't keep his zipper up" crushed Democrats' chances of regaining the Senate, sources with direct knowledge of the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are hoping for a 50-50 split by winning two upcoming special elections in Georgia. But their best chance for an outright Senate majority ended when Cunningham lost in North Carolina and Sen. Susan Collins won in Maine.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.