Those of us who love astrobiology get really worked up about the lack of Earth-sized exoplanets found at Earth-like distances from their stars. All we want, we who hope for lots of extraterrestrial life, is a bunch of Earth-like planets doing Earth-like things so we can feel better about the odds for lots of Earth-like life in the universe.
Of all the kinds of planets we’re finding around other stars—hot Jupiters and mini-Neptunes and those dubiously called “Earth-like”—super-Earths orbiting close to their stars are among the most abundant. While planets so close to their stars are poor candidates for habitability, they are important to understanding the possibility of other habitable planets in these seemingly common systems.
How do giant planets affect the water content of rocky planets in habitable zones? Astronomers have run new planet formation simulations to try to answer this question.
The Kepler Space Telescope gets a promising second chance with a new mission called “K2″.
Planets orbiting close to type-M dwarf stars are in the habitable zone, but if their orbits are in a 3:2 spin resonance, do their long, strange days and nights have a chance of supporting photosynthetic life?
For planets too old for plate tectonics, a companion planet could drive tidal heating to keep conditions primed for life.
Today’s paper is too awesome to be contained in merely one astrobite, so we’ve split it into two parts. In Part 1, find out how you can keep warm even if you’re far outside your star’s habitable zone (if “you” are a planet or moon, that is). Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: Superhabitability and You!
A headline-grabbing paper calculated the prevalence of Earth-sized planets with long orbital periods around Sun-like stars. But are these planets anything like Earth?
This article uses theoretical modeling to estimate the influence of ice and snow on the habitability of extrasolar planets. This work differentiates itself from past efforts by including the influence of the atmosphere, and by considering planets orbiting M-dwarfs in addition to Sun-like stars.
The search for exoplanets in their habitable zones continues. But exomoons could be habitable, too! This paper models hypothetical exomoons in four real systems to determine the habitability of moons around planets that don’t necessarily stay in the habitable zone.