(ORDO NEWS) — The results of simulations, which were carried out by American scientists, showed that some stars can have up to seven potentially habitable planets. The work was published in the Astronomical Journal.
The search for life in outer space, scientists usually limit the so-called habitable zone – the area around the star, in which the planets revolving around it can have liquid water, which is necessary to maintain life in the form in which we know it.
Researchers led by astrobiologist Stephen Kane from the University of California at Riverside, using the example of the nearest planetary system TRAPPIST-1, created a conditional model of a system of planets of various sizes orbiting their stars. The algorithm took into account the gravitational forces of interaction between planets over millions of years.
The star TRAPPIST-1 is a red dwarf about the size of Jupiter. Of the seven planets known today, three Earth-like planets are in the habitable zone.
“It got me thinking about the maximum number of habitable planets a star can have, and why our star has only one such planet,” Kane said in a press release from the University of California, Riverside.
Modeling results showed that some stars can support up to seven planets with liquid water, while a star like the Sun can have a maximum of six.
“If there are more than seven of them, they will be too close to each other and begin to destabilize each other’s orbits,” says the scientist.
At the next stage, the authors found out why there is only one inhabited planet in the solar system, if there can be six of them. It turned out that the whole thing is in Jupiter, the mass of which is two and a half times the mass of all other planets of the solar system combined.
“It has a big impact on the habitability of our system because Jupiter is massive and disrupts the orbits of other planets,” explains Kane.
It follows from digital constructions that the maximum number of planets in the habitable zone is possible if their orbits are stable and close to ideal circular ones. Then the planets will be able to stay close to each other for a long time.
So far, only a few planetary systems with such parameters are known. The authors plan to purposefully search for stars surrounded by a tight ring of small planets. These stars will be their primary targets for NASA’s Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (Habitable Exoplanet Observatory) project.
In the article, they write that they have already identified one such star – Beta Hounds of the Dogs (β CVn), which is very close, only 27 light-years from Earth. There are no giants like Jupiter in its planetary system, and it can be expected that there will be several Earth-like planets in the habitable zone.
Future research will also include the creation of new models, including for studying the chemistry of the atmosphere of planets in the habitable zones of other star systems.
The authors believe that the models they create can also be useful for describing the evolutionary paths of the development of the solar system and the Earth.
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