IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Sunspots help understand life around other stars

12th October, 2020 Science and Technology

Context: A new study published in The Astrophysical Journal has shown how sunspots - which are relatively cooler and darker patches on the Sun - can help us understand more about conditions for life on exoplanets, planets that are outside the solar system.

More about the study

  • High-resolution data of the Sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and JAXA/NASA’s Hinode mission was used for the study.
  • Different layers of the Sun studied using 14 different wavelengths including visible, ultraviolet (UV), and X-rays.


  • Sunspots are precursors to solar flares.
  • Monitoring them can help decode how and why flares occur.
  • On young stars, superflares happen almost daily, whereas, on more mature ones like our Sun, they may occur once in 1,000 years.
  • A few flares may help in building RNA and DNA on planets whereas too many strong flares can damage the atmosphere, thus turning the planet uninhabitable.
  • Studying stellar activity could also help explain the beginning of life on Earth four billion years ago.