Space & Astronomy
Some stars could host seven habitable planets
By T.K. Randall
August 2, 2020 · 5 comments
Some solar systems could have multiple Earth-like worlds. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Luciano Mendez
Other stars may be able to host more than our own solar system's solitary habitable world, a new study suggests.
As things stand, the Earth is the only known example of a habitable world in the entire universe - even the other planets in our solar system, as far as we know, do not (or no longer) harbor life.
This begs the question - do solar systems with more than one habitable world actually exist ?
As it happens, the answer is very much 'yes' - the relatively nearby planetary system Trappist-1, for instance, is known to be home to at least three habitable worlds and now scientists believe that it is possible for a star to support even more under the right circumstances.
By creating a model to simulate planets of different sizes in orbit around a star, a team lead by astrobiologist Stephen Kane from UC Riverside was able to calculate that a star like the Sun could potentially support up to six habitable worlds, while larger stars could support seven.
The researchers also determined that the reason our solar system only has one habitable world is because the planets' orbits aren't circular enough and Jupiter is hogging up a lot of the space.
"It has a big effect on the habitability of our solar system because it's massive and disturbs other orbits," said Kane.
It is hoped that the team's findings will help astronomers to target stars with a greater chance of supporting multiple habitable worlds, thus increasing the chances of finding extraterrestrial life.
| Comments (5)