Planets Get Heat With a Little Help From Their Friends

Planets Get Heat With a Little Help From Their Friends

How might worlds orbiting other stars stay warm enough to support life?

Tidal heating – the inspiration for my research – may be the answer!

Artist's conception of planets orbiting a low-mass star. (image courtesy of NASA/JPL)

“Let’s be honest for a second. The search for planets in the galaxy is about the search for life. It is awesome that we’re learning about thousands of other planetary systems. We’re making discoveries – some surprising, some reassuring – about the nature and evolution of the universe. This is great. But one look at the hyperbolic headlines about Earth-like planets and Earth twins reveals why, in the hearts and minds of the public, and maybe of a lot of researchers, the search for planets is the search for potential homes for life.

In that case, our understanding of exoplanets is about finding promising candidates so that, once we have the means to look for evidence of life, we’ll have a shortlist.”

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