The search for life on other planets could soon extend to solar systems that are very different from our own, according to a new study by an Ohio State University astronomer and his colleagues.
In fact, finding a terrestrial planet in such a solar system would offer unique scientific opportunities to test evolution, said Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy here. In a recent issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, he and his coauthors calculated that NASA’s upcoming Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) would be able to detect habitable planets near stars significantly more massive than the sun.
Scientists have typically thought that the search for life should focus on finding planets like Earth that orbit stars like the sun, but this new finding shows that “the field is wide open,” Gould said. “Here’s a type of solar system that we never thought to look at,” he added, “but now we’ll have the tools to do it.”
Andrew Gould | Ohio Stat University
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