San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane hunts for signs of life in outer space. His team measured light output from a distant star called Wolf 1061.1 Exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) orbit Wolf 1061, and one of them held the promise of liquid water, a prerequisite for life.

Kane’s group tested whether or not the “c” planet of Wolf 1061, called Wolf 1061c, would permit liquid water. The “Goldilocks zone,” or Habitable Zone (HZ), describes the distance from each particular star at which water on an orbiting planet would retain liquid. Life needs liquid water to facilitate all its necessary biochemical reactions.

But excitement dwindled when they overlaid the likely orbital track of planet Wolf 1061c onto the Goldilocks zone, they discovered that the planet orbits so close to its star that any water there would likely cause a runaway greenhouse effect. It would be a hellish sauna, like Venus.

Basically, they just crossed Wolf 1061c off the list of exoplanets that might have liquid water.

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