Binary system Kepler-47 contains at least one planet in its habitable zone. The two stars have different masses, however, and so the habitability of such planets is limited by the shorter lifetime of the larger and more massive star. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Habitable Binary Star Systems

Posted: 02/04/13
Author: Nola Taylor Redd

Summary: Habitable planets hoping to see a double sunset stand the best chance when orbiting twin stars that are close together

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: Habitable Binary Star Systems — Astrobiology Magazine.

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