60 billion potentially habitable planets may be orbiting Red Dwarfs in our Milky Way alone, twice the number previously thought. Image © NASA
According to current data from NASA’s Kepler Mission suggest there is approximately one Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of each red dwarf.
A new study reported in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, these planets in the habitable zone of a parent star may have the ability to sustain liquid water on their surface, researchers say.
The atmospheric and cloud circulation on these exoplanets meant these worlds could orbit their stars more closely than previously thought—expanding the habitable zone around red dwarf stars.
Computer simulations developed by Dorian Abbot, a planetary scientist at the University of Chicago, show that we should be looking at orbits much closer to red dwarfs than we’ve done in the past for worlds that can support liquidwater and, possibly, life.
Study co-author Dr Nicolas Cowan from the Northwestern University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, said:
“Most of the planets in the Milky Way orbit red dwarfs, a thermostat that makes such planets more clement means we don’t have to look as far to find a habitable planet.”
Dr. Dorian Abbot from the University of Chicago, said:
“Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth. They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That’s part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life.”