Milky Way Galaxy and signs of life and water: Check out what this study found

The research team has found that the stars with multiple planets were the most likely to have the kind of circular orbits that allow them to retain liquid water.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: May 31 2023, 21:18 IST
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1/5 Spanish Dancer Galaxy: On May 8th, NASA shared a mesmerizing view of the Spanish Dancer Spiral Galaxy (NGC 1566). Within the galaxy are blue star clusters and dark cosmic dust lanes which follow two prominent spiral arms. (NASA/ESA/Hubble/Detlev Odenthal)
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2/5 Earth casts a double shadow: On May 9th, NASA shared a snapshot of the Earth with double shadows captured during a lunar eclipse. The section in the middle is called the Belt of Venus.  (NASA/ Marcella Giulia Pace Sampieri)
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Two-thirds of the planets around these ubiquitous small stars could be roasted by tidal extremes. (AFP)

A many as 1/3rd of the planets revolving around the most common stars across the Milky Way Galaxy may have liquid water and can possibly harbour life, according to a study based on latest telescope data. Most of the common stars in our galaxy are smaller and comparatively cooler. They are sporting just half the mass of the Sun at most. Billions of planets revolve around these common dwarf stars.

Two-thirds of the planets around these ubiquitous small stars could be roasted by tidal extremes, sterilising them, shows the analysis which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sheila Sagear, a doctoral student at the University of Florida (UF) in the US, said "I think this result is really important for the next decade of exoplanet research, because eyes are shifting towards this population of stars." she further added, “These stars are excellent targets to look for small planets in an orbit where it's conceivable that water might be liquid and therefore, the planet might be habitable."

UF astronomy professor Sarah Ballard says, "It's only for these small stars that the zone of habitability is close enough for these tidal forces to be relevant," Ballard said.

The data from NASA's Kepler telescope was used by the researchers. It captures information about exoplanets as they move in front of their host stars, PTI said.

The research team has found that the stars with multiple planets were the most likely to have the kind of circular orbits that allow them to retain liquid water.

As per the researchers, stars with only one planet were the most likely to see tidal extremes that would sterilise the surface. They explained, “Since one-third of the planets in this small sample had gentle enough orbits to potentially host liquid water, that likely means that the Milky Way has hundreds of millions of promising targets to probe for signs of life outside our solar system.”

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First Published Date: 31 May, 21:10 IST
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