New study shows how trace elements affect stars’ habitable zones

Comparison of the habitable zone around the Sun in our solar system and around the star Gliese 581. Credit: ESO

Habitable zones are the regions around stars, including our own Sun, where conditions are the most favourable for the development of life on any rocky planets that happen to orbit within them. Generally, they are regions where temperatures allow for liquid water to exist on the surface of these planets and are ideal for “life as we know it.” Specific conditions, due to the kind of atmosphere, geological conditions, etc. must also be taken into consideration, on a case-by-case basis.

Now, by examining trace elements in the host stars, researchers have found clues as to how the habitable zones evolve, and how those elements also influence them. To determine what elements are in a star, scientists study the wavelengths of its light. These trace elements are heavier than the hydrogen and helium gases which the star is primarily composed of. Variations in the composition of these stars are now thought to affect the habitable zones around them…

See Universe Today for the full article.