Oct 29, 2022

The hunt for habitable planets may have just gotten far more narrow, new study finds

Posted by in category: alien life

The hunt for planets that could harbor life may have just narrowed dramatically.

Scientists had long hoped and theorized that the most common type of star in our universe — called an M dwarf — could host nearby planets with atmospheres, potentially rich with carbon and perfect for the creation of life. But in a new study of a world orbiting an M dwarf 66 light-years from Earth, researchers found no indication such a planet could hold onto an atmosphere at all.

Without a carbon-rich atmosphere, it’s unlikely a planet would be hospitable to living things. Carbon molecules are, after all, considered the building blocks of life. And the findings don’t bode well for other types of planets orbiting M dwarfs, said study coauthor Michelle Hill, a planetary scientist and a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Riverside.

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