Space & Astronomy
Solar system 'habitable zone' redefined
By T.K. Randall
January 31, 2013 · 26 comments
Image Credit: ESO
Scientists have updated their calculations for determining if a planet is likely to support life.
The habitable or 'Goldilocks' zone around a star is the region in which the temperature is considered 'just right' for liquid water to exist. Planet hunters have been using this concept to identify which planets around other stars may be able to support life with planets too close to their star being considered too hot and planets further away being considered too cold.
Now however the calculations used to determine this zone have been changed thanks to a team of researchers who have undertaken the task of updating the formula. The new measurements would mean that the Earth lies at the very edge of our own Sun's habitable zone and that extrasolar planets once thought to be too hot or too cold might actually be 'just right' after all.
Also known as the Goldilocks zone, because temperatures are "just right" for life there, the habitable zone is the main tool that exoplanet hunters have to rank their finds. But researchers are still using a definition coined in 1993.
Source: New Scientist
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