Astronomers admitted the existence of life in the “terminator zone” on distant planets: what is known about it
Extraterrestrial life may exist on planets in deep space that are considered unsuitable for it. We are talking about planets, one side of which is always facing its star, while the other is in constant darkness. It is on the thin border between them, which is called the terminator line, that conditions may be required for life.
This is stated in a study by scientists from the University of California at Irvine (UCI), published by The Astrophysical Journal.
Project lead investigator Ana Lobo, UCI Department of Physics and Astronomy Research Fellow, explained that these terminator line planets are very common because they exist around stars that make up about 70% of the stars visible in the night sky. We are talking about the so-called M-dwarf stars, which are not as powerful as the Sun in our system.
“These planets have a permanent day side and a permanent night side,” Lobo explained.
The terminator is the line separating these two sides on the planet.
“This is a planet where the day side can be unbearably hot, far beyond habitable, and the night side will be freezing, potentially covered in ice. There could be large glaciers on the night side,” Phys.
In the terminator zone, according to the researchers, the temperature may be ideal for the formation of liquid water, which is a necessary ingredient for life.
For the study, Lobo and her team modeled the planet’s climate with a terminator line using software commonly used to model Earth’s climate. However, for this experiment, they had to actually stop the rotation of the planet.
This study is the first of its kind, as ocean-covered exoplanets have previously been used to search for life. Now that the theoretical existence of life on planets with a terminator line has been proven, astronomers will have new opportunities for their search.
“We’re trying to draw attention to water-limited planets that, despite not having large oceans, may have lakes or other smaller bodies of water, and that climate could be very promising,” Lobo said.
She also clarified that there is an important nuance in finding the necessary planet. If the planet is mostly covered in water, then the water facing the star is likely to evaporate and cover the entire planet in a thick layer of steam. But if there is land on the planet, such an effect should not occur, and in such conditions there is a high probability of the existence of life in the terminator zone.
Recognizing terminator zones as potential havens for life means that astronomers will need to adjust the way they study exoplanet climates for signs of life, since biological signs of life can only be present in certain parts of a planet’s atmosphere.
Earlier, GLOBAL HAPPENINGS also talked about the research of scientists who understood why people cannot find life on Mars.
I am a technology author with 8 years of experience in journalism. My writing covers the latest technology advancements and trends, drawing on my expertise in news journalism and social media platforms. I have contributed to major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters.
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