A Star Can Host Seven Habitable Planets

A Star Can Host Seven Habitable Planets

Most scientists are strongly positive about the possibility of life on exoplanets — planets located outside our solar system. For all we know, there are some “Earth-like” planets that could potentially host life. 

 Astronomers have discovered seven intriguing planets. Research conducted by astrobiologist Stephen Kane at the University of California, Riverside, shows that some stars could support up to seven Earth-like planets.  

Kane has previously investigated the possibility of habitable exomoons, which might have the right conditions for supporting life

He came upon the Trappist-1 system and started monitoring it. The system is the home of several planets similar to Earth, located in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water could exist. 

“This made me wonder about the maximum number of habitable planets it’s possible for a star to have, and why our star only has one,” said Kane in a UC Riverside release on Friday. 

The research team designed a solar system computer model. They ran simulations on planet interactions over short periods of time. It appears that a sun-like star could provide six planets with liquid water. Other stars could handle up to seven. Kane is particularly interested in stars with collections of smaller planets.

“More than seven, and the planets become too close to each other and destabilize each other’s orbits,” said Kane.

Although the data suggests such systems could exist, scientists haven’t spotted many stars that seem to have multiple planets within their habitable zones. The distance from Earth makes it barely reachable to check for signs of life. 

The study published in The Astronomical Journal this week serves as a guide to astronomers in the search for habitable exoplanets.

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