Astronomy & Telescopes

Enlarging Habitable Zones Around Binary Stars In Hostile Environments

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 6, 2019
Filed under , , ,
Enlarging Habitable Zones Around Binary Stars In Hostile Environments
Binary star system

Habitable zones are regions around stars where large bodies of liquid water can be sustained on a planet or satellite.

As many stars form in binary systems with non-zero eccentricity, the habitable zones around the component stars of the binary can overlap and be enlarged when the two stars are at periastron (and less often when the stars are at apastron). We perform N-body simulations of the evolution of dense star-forming regions and show that binary systems where the component stars originally have distinct habitable zones can undergo interactions that push the stars closer together, causing the habitable zones to merge and become enlarged.

Occasionally, overlapping habitable zones can occur if the component stars move further apart, but the binary becomes more eccentric. Enlargement of habitable zones happens to 1-2 binaries from an average initial total of 352 in each simulated star-forming region, and demonstrates that dense star-forming regions are not always hostile environments for planet formation and evolution.

Bethany A. Wootton, Richard J. Parker (University of Sheffield, UK)
(Submitted on 5 Mar 2019)

Comments: 6 pages, 2 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS Letters. Press release including artist’s impression at: this https URL
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
DOI: 10.1093/mnrasl/sly238
Cite as: arXiv:1903.01995 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1903.01995v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Richard Parker
[v1] Tue, 5 Mar 2019 19:00:01 UTC (87 KB)

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) 🖖🏻