Habitable Zones & Global Climate

The Evolution of Galaxy Habitability

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
May 23, 2016
Filed under
The Evolution of Galaxy Habitability

We combine a semi-analytic model of galaxy evolution with constraints on circumstellar habitable zones and the distribution of terrestrial planets to probe the suitability of galaxies of different mass and type to host habitable planets, as well as its evolution with time.

We find that the fraction of stars with terrestrial planets in their habitable zone (“habitability”) depends only weakly on galaxy mass, with a maximum around 4e10 Msun. We estimate that 0.7% of all stars in Milky Way type galaxies to host a terrestrial planet within their habitable zone, consistent with the value derived from Kepler observations.

On the other hand, the habitability of passive galaxies is slightly but systematically higher, unless we assume an unrealistically high sensitivity of planets to supernovae. We find that the overall habitability of galaxies has not changed significantly in the last ~8 Gyr, with most of the habitable planets in local disk galaxies having formed ~1.5 Gyr before our own solar system. Finally, we expect that ~1.4e9 planets similar to present-day Earth have existed so far in our galaxy.

R. Gobat, S.E. Hong
(Submitted on 21 May 2016)

Comments: 10 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics
Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO)
Cite as: arXiv:1605.06627 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:1605.06627v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
Submission history
From: Raphael Gobat
[v1] Sat, 21 May 2016 11:27:57 GMT (241kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) πŸ––πŸ»