A recent study has revealed tens of billions of planets surround red dwarfs that are likely capable of containing liquid water, a fact that drastically increases the chances of life existing outside of Earth.
While red dwarfs have long been considered non-viable for life, new research has found that some planets residing inside the “habitable zone” of those red dwarfs may contain surface water that can remain liquid.
According to Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute:
“The habitable zone would be very, very small. Consequently, the chances that you would actually find any planet at the right distance from the sun to be attractive to life was likely to be small, too.”
Researchers are still culling over data from European Space Agency’s HARPS spectrograph in Chile but if their estimates are correct out of 102 red dwarfs 41 percent were hiding planets in the habitable zone.
While a red dwarf’s habitable zone is typically closer to the star than Mercury to the sun, causing massive doses of radiation to be felt on the planet, scientists argue that an alien planet that has a magnetic field could provide some protection for life forms on that planet. Researchers also point out that a planet covered in water could feature marine life that is largely shield by radiation.
According to Yahoo News:
“Another problem with planets tightly bound to their host star is a phenomenon known as tidal locking, in which one side of the world is perpetually turned toward the sun and receiving almost all of the heat.”
In the meantime more data will need to be collected and closer observation over time will be required to determine if billions of planets inside habitable zones are actually capable of creating and sustaining life.