Distant planets may harbor life in ‘terminator zones’: study – Times of India

New Delhi: “Terminator zones” on distant planets, or zones where the planet’s “day” side meets the “night” side, could potentially harbor extraterrestrial life, according to a new study. Is. Astronomers from University of California, Irvine (UCI), US, describe the “terminator” as the dividing line between the day and night sides of a planet, with one side always facing its star and one side always dark.
Terminator zones can exist in that “just right” temperature zone between very hot and very cold, they said in the study.
“These planets have a permanent day and a permanent night,” said Anna Loboa postdoctoral researcher in the UCI Department of Physics and Astronomy who led the new work, published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Lobo added that such planets are particularly common because they exist around stars that make up about 70 percent of the stars visible in the night sky — so-called M-dwarf stars, which are closer to our Sun. are relatively dim.
“You want a planet that’s in the right temperature sweet spot to have liquid water.” LoboBecause liquid water, as far as scientists know, is an essential ingredient for life.
“This is a planet where the dayside can be extremely hot, uninhabitable, and the nightside will be frozen, possibly covered in ice. You have large nightsides,” Lobo said. There could be glaciers,” Lobo said.
According to the study, Lobo, along with Aomawa Shields, associate professor of physics and astronomy at UCI, modeled the climates of the terminator planets using software that typically models our own planet’s climate. used to do, but with a few adjustments, including reducing the rotation of the planets.
Lobo added that one of the keys to the search was figuring out what kind of terminator zone planet could sustain liquid water.
If the planet is mostly covered in water, the water facing the star, the team found, would likely evaporate and cover the entire planet in a thick layer of vapor. But if there is land, this effect should not be there.
“Anna has shown that if there is a lot of land on the planet, the scenario we call the ‘terminator possibility’ could very easily exist,” Shields said.
“These new and exotic habitable states that our team is uncovering are no longer the stuff of science fiction — Anna has worked to show that such states can be climatically stable,” Shields said. are,” Shields said.
The study is believed to be the first time that astronomers have been able to demonstrate that such planets can maintain a climate capable of being confined to this terminator region.
Historically, researchers have studied mostly ocean-covered planets in search of candidates for habitation.
However, this study may increase the selection options for life-hunting astronomers.
“We’re trying to focus on more water-limited planets that, while not having vast oceans, may have lakes or other small bodies of liquid water, and that climates are actually very promising,” Lobo said. It can be beneficial.”
“By exploring these exotic climate states, we increase our chances of finding and correctly identifying a habitable planet in the near future,” Lobo said.

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