An artist’s image of Kepler-16b, the first known planet to orbit both stars in a binary system.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle


Extraterrestrial Life May be Common Around Binary Stars

Nola Taylor Redd, Astrobiology Magazine
Date: 26 February 2013 Time: 01:03 PM ET

Planets orbiting binary star systems have to deal with the stresses of more than one star. But new research reveals that close binaries could be as good as singles when it comes to hosting habitable planets. Low-mass twins could make the best hosts, because their combined energy extends the habitable region farther away than would exist around a single star.

After modeling a variety of binary systems, two astronomers determined that stars 80 percent as massive as the Sun, if close enough together, could allow for conditions that would be ideal for hosting habitable planets.

“Potentially, life could exist even more in binary systems than it does in single systems,” Joni Clark, an undergraduate at New Mexico State University, told Astrobiology Magazine. Clark worked with astrophysicist Paul Mason of the University of Texas at El Paso.

Read more: Extraterrestrial Life May be Common Around Binary Stars | Habitable Planets |

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