A third of the planets in the Milky Way could be habitable

Astronomers from the University of Florida in the United States have discovered that a third of the planets orbiting red dwarf stars could be habitablebecause they can have liquid water on their surface, which makes them ideal candidates to host life.

The conclusion came out of new research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. through the studyAnd Star systems with multiple planets have been found more likely to have circular orbits, allowing them to hold liquid water, and with it life.

UF astronomy professor Sarah Ballard and doctoral student Sheila Sager published their findings the week of May 29 in a journal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Ballard and Sager have long studied exoplanets, those worlds that orbit stars other than our Sun.

“I think this result is really important for the next decade of exoplanet research, because eyes are on this group of stars,” said Sager. “These stars are excellent targets for the search for small planets In an orbit in which water can conceivably be liquid, and thus the planet is habitable.”

Sager and Ballard measured the eccentricity of a sample of more than 150 planets around these M dwarf stars, which are about the size of Jupiter.. The more elliptical the orbit, the more bizarre it is. If a planet orbits close to its star, roughly the distance Mercury orbits the sun, its eccentric orbit can subject it to a process known as tidal heating. As the planet expands and deforms due to the changing gravitational forces in its irregular orbit, friction causes it to heat up. In the extreme, it could ferment the planet, eliminating all possibilities of liquid water, as published by the Scientific Portal Phys.org.

The data comes from NASA’s Kepler telescope., which captures information about exoplanets as they move in front of their host stars. To measure the planets’ orbits, Ballard and Sagear focused specifically on how long it takes the planets to move across the face of the stars. Their study was also based on new data from the Gaia telescope, which measures the distance to billions of stars in the galaxy.

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Lovell Loxley

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