One of the best candidates for a potentially habitable exoplanet is likely an airless, irradiated wasteland that has been scorched by flares from its star, according to new research based on studies performed by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

When its existence was announced in January 2015, Kepler-438b was heralded as one of the most Earth-like exoplanets discovered so far. This was despite the fact that the only things scientists knew about the planet for sure was that it was almost the same size as Earth (just 1.12 times bigger than our planet) and that it orbited in the so-called habitable zone of its star, which is the region around the star where temperatures are suitable for liquid water to survive on the surface of a planet.

However, Kepler-438b orbits a red dwarf star located 470 light years away in the constellation of Lyra and new work, reported in the 18 November issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society by a team of scientists led by Dr David Armstrong of the University of Warwick, indicates that activity on the red dwarf may have rendered its planet inhospitable.

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