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Habitable Zone Less Habitable?

The hunt for exoplanets has been heating up for years, aided by new technologies and refined methods for finding smaller and smaller planets that may harbor life.

Integral to this hunt is the concept that the ideal planet’s orbit will be in a habitable zone that is far enough away from its parent star that water doesn’t completely evaporate and close enough for liquid water to exist.

In fact, a new earth-sized planet was recently found that was smack-dab in the middle of this Goldilocks zone and our current best candidate for an earth-like planet that could support life as we know it.

This zone however may not be as capacious as we once thought.
It looks like the heat from a star is not the only limiting factor for the survivability of liquid water. Tidal forces can also have a similar effect. This is called Tidal Heating.

The decline of a star’s gravitational pull on a planet means that some parts of a planet are tugged to a greater or a lesser degree than other parts. This not only deforms the shape a planet’s oceans but also its rocky interior (and even its atmosphere).

This constant kneeding of rock makes the planet hotter, potentially turning a wet world into a dessicated Venus-like planet. In fact, these worlds are being called Tidal Venuses.

To read more on this fascinating topic, check out this link

 

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