Results tagged “Extrasolar planet”

Moons orbiting extrasolar planets are the next class of object to be observed and characterized for possible habitability. Like the host-planets to their host-star, exomoons have a limiting radius at which they may be gravitationally bound, or the Hill radius.

Exoplanetary science has reached a historic moment. The James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of probing the atmospheres of rocky planets, and perhaps even search for biologically produced gases. However this is contingent on identifying suitable targets before the end of the mission. A race therefore, is on, to find transiting planets with the most favorable properties, in time for the launch. Here, we describe a realistic opportunity to discover extremely favorable targets - rocky planets transiting nearby brown dwarfs - using the Spitzer Space Telescope as a survey instrument.

A University of Washington astronomer is using Earth's interstellar neighbors to learn the nature of certain stars too far away to be directly measured or observed, and the planets they may host. "Characterization by proxy" is the technique used by Sarah Ballard, a post-doctoral researcher at the UW, to infer the properties of small, relatively cool stars too distant for measurement, by comparing them to closer stars that now can be directly observed.

We explore the minimum distance from a host star for an exoplanet to be potentially habitable, in order to maximize future chances of finding other habitable worlds. We find that the inner edge of the Habitable Zone (HZ) for hot desert worlds is at 0.5 AU around a solar-like star (well within the orbit of Venus).

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