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TagHabitable zone

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Six worlds

New Class of “Hycean” Exoplanets May Feature Life

The new James Webb Telescope will enable much clearer resolution for the composition believed necessary for hosting life

A group of Cambridge astronomers, studying the more than 4000 confirmed exoplanets, think that hydrogen-rich planets may host life. These “Hycean” planets are more numerous than planets similar to Earth and are easier to observe, especially through the new James Webb telescope, to be launched later this year. They are thought to be completely covered by oceans and are termed “mini-Neptune water worlds”: Many of the prime Hycean candidates identified by the researchers are bigger and hotter than Earth, but still have the characteristics to host large oceans that could support microbial life similar to that found in some of Earth’s most extreme aquatic environments. These planets also allow for a far wider habitable zone, or ‘Goldilocks zone’, compared to…

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red dwarf star sun space view, 3d render

Could Red Dwarf Stars Host Planets With Intelligent Life?

Red dwarfs are much more numerous than brighter yellow dwarfs like our sun

Our Sun is a yellow dwarf star, shiny but comparatively short-lived. Red dwarfs are said to be the most common and longest-lived type of star in our galaxy. They are long-lived because they do not emit much radiance. How large are their habitable zones? A key problem turns on how much light they emit that is useful for life. That was quite a topic of discussion earlier this year at Centauri Dreams (dedicated to “Imagining and Planning Interstellar Exploration”). Astronomer and mathematician Henry Cordova offers some thoughts: All else being equal, the radiant flux received by the planet must then be directly proportional to the luminosity of the star, and inversely proportional to the square of the planet’s distance from…