Space might not be the final frontier after all. Due to an astronomical breakthrough in astronomy and astrophysics, scientist have discovered a way to point out the habitable planets outside our Solar System. We can even say that the Universe is extending that very warm welcome from the cold of space to any weary traveler.
In the somewhat traditional system, astronomers sought life using what is called the “The Goldilocks Zone” or the “habitable area” This area located, mainly, in the vicinity of a star and provides the necessary conditions needed for a planet to sustain life.
Using the new and improved system, scientists can take peak of what’s over to the neighboring star systems and determine if they can sustain life or not by using what they call a hability index. Presently this index cannot provide detailed information about the forms of life we can encounter in the outer rim of our Solar System. But it can compute chances of encounter using a binary system.
Using this hability index, researchers can perform predictions about the chances of encountering a planet with conditions similar as Earth by using the Virtual Planetary Laboratory Web. This interface refines the hability index and develops a new metric system named “hability index for transiting planets”.
Using this metric system, researchers have been able to devise a hierarchy of Earthlike otherworlds. Their all time favorite seems to be Kepler-442b and KOI 3456.02. According to the rolling numbers, both of them have registered high scores in the hability index dashboard (Keppler has an index of 0.836, while KOI 3456,02 scored 0.955).
By using this new and revolutionary system, 1000 new planets have been confirmed of having similar conditions to Earth, and more than 5000 candidates await confirmation.
When devising this “hability index for transiting planets”, professors Rory Barnes and Victoria Meadows, took into account a peculiar phenomenon called “the eccentricity-albedo degeneracy”. This represents a balanced between the quantity of energy that the planet surface can reflect off into space(albedo) and the circularity of its orbit.
As the authors explain, the higher a planet’s albedo, the more energy a planet could bounce out into space. This translates into the capacity of a planet to sustain life. Also, another aspect of Barnes theory is the so-called rockiness of a planet (if or not a planet’s surface is similar to Earth).
The search for life continues and with the help of the Kepler Space Telescope, there will be a new attempt to chart other corners of our galaxy.
Image source: www.orig10.deviantart.net/