New model shows that binary stars like Alpha Centauri should be good candidates for Earth-like planets

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Here's a short article on on a new model that predicts that Alpha Centauri B should be a good candidate for an Earth-like planet in the habitability zone of the star. It was thought for a while that the gravitational pull between two stars would make it quite difficult for planets like that to form and remain in stable orbits, but at least with Alpha Centauri B this should be no problem.

Alpha Centauri B also happens to be the star around which the moon Pandora in the movie Avatar is based, so so far the movie remains at least theoretically accurate in that respect. By the time the sequel comes out we should know at least a few planets around some of the stars there, and the more refined our observations are the easier it becomes to cancel out the possibility of certain types of planets. We are certain, for example, that there are no planets greater than the mass of Neptune in an orbit equal to or less than that of the Earth around Proxima Centauri. Anything of that mass and distance would have shown up already in its gravitational influence on its host star.


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