Habitable Zones & Global Climate: January 2015

Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, University of Washington astronomers have found.

A study by astrophysicists at the University of Toronto suggests that exoplanets - planets outside our solar system - are more likely to have liquid water and be more habitable than we thought.

Next-generation space telescopes will allow us to characterize terrestrial exoplanets. To do so effectively it will be crucial to make use of all available data.

In this paper we present a series of models for the deep water cycle on super-Earths experiencing plate tectonics.

Astronomers announced today that they have found eight new planets in the "Goldilocks" zone of their stars, orbiting at a distance where liquid water can exist on the planet's surface. This doubles the number of small planets (less than twice the diameter of Earth) believed to be in the habitable zone of their parent stars. Among these eight, the team identified two that are the most similar to Earth of any known exoplanets to date.

For life as we know it to develop on other planets, those planets would need liquid water, or oceans.

The remarkable discovery of many planets and candidates using the Kepler telescope even includes ten planets orbiting eight binaries. Three out of the eight, Kepler 16, Kepler 47, and KIC 9632895, have at least one planet in the circumbinary habitable zone (BHZ).