SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – Future humans looking for a new home might want to focus on systems with double-planets.
Such a planet might have the potential to host life for up to 10 trillion years, reports Space.com.
Worlds without nearby large companions, like our Earth, are doomed to cool after billions of years as the molten metals deep inside harden into a solid.
Many species on our planet rely on the geo-thermal activity to provide the energy needed to stay alive. Once the interior cools, our planet will become less hospitable for life.
In a new study, scientists speculate that a planet that has a large companion will experience constant gravitational pull. And that will slow down the cooling process inside the planet for a long, long time…trillions of years.
Scientists are also looking at the type of star a habitable world could orbit. We orbit a yellow sun that burns bright but expends its nuclear fuel after about a trillion years or so.
So astronomers are focusing on red dwarf stars. They are not as hot as the sun, but they live many times longer.
An ideal planet would orbit close to a red dwarf star, well inside the habitable zone where liquid water can exist. And it would have a large companion planet that would keep the planet’s interior active, providing energy for the surface.
“When the planet is closer to the star, the gravitational field is stronger, and the planet is deformed into an American football shape,” study co-author Rory Barnes, an astrobiologist and planetary scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle,said in a statement. “When farther from the star, the field is weaker, and the planet relaxes into a more spherical shape.”
If the prediction turns out to be accurate, our distant descendants may be living on such a planet.
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