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Space & Astronomy

Twin planets could boost chance of alien life

August 10, 2014 | Comment icon 8 comments



Are two planets better than one ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Extrasolar planets with a companion world tugging at them could remain habitable for much longer.
Astronomers may have identified a new target in the hunt for life outside of our solar system in the form of binary planetary systems.

Unlike individual planets which eventually cool with age and become inhospitable to life, planets that have an accompanying twin may stay warm and active for longer thanks to tidal heating.
"For planets in the habitable zone around low-mass stars, tides raised on the planet by the star can be very important," said lead study author Christa Van Laerhoven. "Tides raised on the habitable zone planet by its star can provide a long-term internal heat source if there is another well-placed planet in the system."

This tidal heating could potentially extend the period of time during which a planet can remain internally warm and tectonically active by up to 10 trillion years - a figure that represents a lifespan more than 700 times the current age of the universe.

Source: Space.com | Comments (8)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Rhino666 8 years ago
It doesn't matter what we find or think we've found out there , the bottom line is we can't get to it!. It's NOT going to happen because we lack in technology, are biology won't cope and as a species we fight too much to share the cost. It ain't gonna happen.
Comment icon #2 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
We could get to other worlds. The problem is just that it's going to take hundreds of generations to do so.
Comment icon #3 Posted by IBelieveWhatIWant 8 years ago
We should stop using the term "Habitable Zone". Everywhere is habitable for possible alien life. We also shouldn't limit the search parameters like this.
Comment icon #4 Posted by John Wesley Boyd 8 years ago
Is this suppose to be knew? I wrote term about it in high school. Thank God for the moon. It kept Earth's core hot.
Comment icon #5 Posted by taniwha 8 years ago
We should stop using the term "Habitable Zone". Everywhere is habitable for possible alien life. We also shouldn't limit the search parameters like this. I agree, concentrate the search to the hellish barren wastelands of the 'uninhabitable' zones. I hope this saves you much time.
Comment icon #6 Posted by the.truth.is.out.there.x 8 years ago
I have no doubt that there are alien life forms that inhabit other planets, but unfortunately, the universe seems to be designed to keep us apart. It would take thousands of years to reach any "habitable" planet. Hopefully, we will eventually have the technology for quicker deep space travel.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Sundew 8 years ago
I agree with the posters: unless we develop space-warping technology this is rather academic. If we ever do, then by all means we should narrow the search to worlds similar to our own, within the so-called "Goldilocks Zone," a good part covered with liquid water and a moon for its tidal forces. Out of billions of worlds there should be quite a few that fit the bill.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Silent Trinity 8 years ago
Mind boggling figures! Although the kind of life that would thrive in that 'Goldilocks zone' would surely be somewhat bizarre next to our own evolution....


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