Tag Archives: life

Where to find life in the Milky Way galaxy

A paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph preprint website has attempted to model the habitable zones within the Milky Way galaxy. From the abstract:

We predict that ~1.2% of all stars host a planet that may have been capable of supporting complex life at some point in the history of the Galaxy. Of those stars with a habitable planet, ~75% of planets are predicted to be in a tidally locked configuration with their host star. The majority of these planets that may support complex life are found towards the inner Galaxy, distributed within, and significantly above and below, the Galactic midplane.[emphasis mine]

They took into consideration the hazard of supernovae for killing off planetary life, as well as other factors such as the where the necessary heavier elements would be available for producing planets.

You can download the paper here [pdf].


First planet discovered that might harbor life!

Big news! Scientists have discovered the first rocky terrestrial planet orbiting its sun at a distance where life as we know it could form. The planet itself has a mass three to four times Earth, so no matter what, conditions on its surface would be very different than here. Nonetheless, this is a major discovery, and is only the first of many. Key quote:

The discovery suggests habitable planets must be common, with 10 to 20 per cent of red dwarfs and sun-like stars boasting them, the team says. That’s because Gliese 581 is one of just nine stars out to its distance that have been searched with high enough precision to reveal a planet in the habitable zone.