Two Potentially Habitable Exoplanets Seem to Have Stable Climate, Increasing the Chances for Life (Study)


Exoplanet Kepler-62f surrounded by distant stars

The two potentially habitable exoplanets have a small variation in their axial tilt

Among the newly discovered cosmic objects, researchers also found some potentially habitable exoplanets, Kepler-62f and Kepler-186f. Researchers decided to study these exoplanets in depth and found that life might really be possible there. It turns out they have a stable climate, just like our planet.

Liquid water is not enough to host life

About four years ago, researchers stumbled upon these potentially habitable exoplanets situated several hundreds of light-years away from Earth. Both of them sit in the habitable zone of their governing stars, also known as the Goldilocks zone. This means the light and heat coming from the stars is perfect to maintain water in a liquid form on the planets.

Unfortunately, liquid water is not enough to make these exoplanets habitable. The climate is also extremely important, as well as those conditions that allow an atmosphere to exist. Therefore, researchers went on to study the climate of the potentially habitable exoplanets. This way, they performed a series of simulations to find out more about the tilt of their axis.

The potentially habitable exoplanets have a small variation in their tilt

This is extremely important, since this tilt tells us how much light and energy from the star reaches the planet. If this tilt has a big variation, then the climate of the planet won’t be stable at all. The best example is that of the planet Mars. It lies in the habitable zone of the sun, but its variable axis tilt caused its atmosphere to disappear and liquid water to evaporate.

However, the potentially habitable exoplanets have an insignificant axis tilt variation. Therefore, the climates of the two cosmic bodies are stable, just like on Earth. This has been one of the first studies to look at exoplanet climates and how they could influence habitability.

The variation of this tilt is a result of the gravitational forces between planets. In Earth’s case, the oscillation of this axis decreases thanks to our moon, which blocks Mars’ influence. These potentially habitable exoplanets do not resemble Earth in this case, but they still have a weaker gravitational connection to the surrounding planets.

The study was published in the Astronomical Journal.

Image source: Wikipedia


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