Photo: NASA/Goddard/SDO

The Sun might be a bit more quiet than other stars of its kind, a feature that potentially makes our planet more friendly to life, according to a new study.

Why it matters: Understanding the Sun in context with other stars being studied today is important to learn more about the history of how our solar system came to be and just how uncommon — or common — life is in the universe.

The intrigue: Bursts of solar plasma and radiation from the Sun can be harmful for astronauts and satellites in space, but if the Sun has always been a more quiet, even-tempered star, it may have helped life to develop on Earth.

What they found: The authors of the new study — published in the journal Science last week — used data from 369 stars with properties like the Sun surveyed by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope between 2009 and 2013.

  • The stars are about the same age as the Sun with similar rotational periods, among other characteristics.
  • According to the study, the Sun appears to be a bit less active — with fewer sunspots and solar flares — than the other stars examined.
  • "We were very surprised that most of the Sun-like stars are so much more active than the Sun," Alexander Shapiro, one of the authors of the study said in a statement.

Yes, but: Just because the Sun is less active than other solar-type stars today doesn't mean that it's always been a quiet, well-behaved star.

  • It's possible this is a quiet period in the Sun's life and it was actually more active in the past and could be in the future.
  • The Sun may also be nearing an age in which it calms down and becomes much quieter than it had been billions of years earlier.

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Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 11, 2020 - Science

Researchers use Hubble Telescope to study Earth as an alien planet

Earth seen from orbit at night. Photo: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope observed Earth as future tools could one day see a distant, alien planet.

Why it matters: These kinds of analogous experiments using Earth in place of an exoplanet (a world orbiting another star) give scientists a chance to see what a habitable planet may look like through telescopes if one is eventually found.

Deadly Hurricane Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," it began lashing Alabama late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

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Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China