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The Habitable Zone: The Impact of Methane

11 May 2018, 15:22 UTC
The Habitable Zone: The Impact of Methane NASA

The definition of a habitable zone is under constant refinement, an important line of research as we choose which exoplanets to focus on in our search for life. Centauri Dreams regular Alex Tolley today looks at the question as it involves the presence of methane. With planetary warming already known to vary depending on the spectral type of the host star, we now learn that the presence of methane can produce thermal inversions and surface cooling on M-star exoplanets, impacting the outer limits of the habitable zone. The work of Ramses Ramirez (Tokyo Institute of Technology) and Lisa Kaltenegger (Carl Sagan Institute, Cornell University), the paper also suggests a possible biosignature near the outer habitable zone edge of hotter stars, one of several results that Alex explores in today’s essay.

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