Thursday, March 13, 2014

Habitable planets less habitable than thought

By Donald Sensing

Habitable Zones Near Red Dwarf Stars Smaller than Previously Thought

New research suggests that the "habitable zone" around certain kinds of stars is smaller than previously thought.

Exoplanets May Have Lobster Shaped Extrasolar Oceans
Artistic representation of five known potential habitable worlds including Gliese 581g. Credit: The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, PHL @ UPR Arecibo
A newly published study reveals that habitable zones near red dwarf stars may be smaller than previously thought. The researchers believe that the exoplanets orbiting the red dwarfs may be mostly covered by icy crusts, save for somewhat lobster-shaped oceans on their day sides. 
Alien planets circling the most common stars in the universe may often have strange lobster-shaped oceans on their surfaces, researchers in China now say. 
These findings suggest the habitable zones where life as we know it might dwell around these stars is smaller than previously thought, scientists added.
Despite the pace of discovery of planets outside our solar system, the likelihood of life elsewhere remains vanishingly small.

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