Springer, 2013. — 324 p.Initial ideas regarding the habitability of extrasolar planets have focused on the overall size of the planet and its location within the stellar habitable zone. However, many additional factors exist that affect their potential ability to harbor life. This is particularly true of planets orbiting red dwarf stars, for it is these worlds that will have the most time to evolve within a star’s Goldilocks zone. Red dwarf stars live for hundreds of billions or trillions of years, providing a very steady candle with which to light their retinue of worlds. However, red dwarfs throw up a wealth of seemingly contradictory conditions that grossly affect whether a planet will be habitable. Planets orbiting these little crimson suns have a unique set of problems that could, in principle, prevent or reduce their potential to host life. Are the most habitable worlds discovered to date really as they appear? This book follows the ongoing work of researchers studying the many disparate branches of science, including astrophysics, chemistry, geology, and biology. Their aim is to create a more holistic view of habitability, based around a large number of interlinked factors. In essence, the question of habitability cannot be reduced to an answer based solely on the location of a planet within or outside of its star’s Goldilocks zone. This book ﬁrst explores the nature of the stars and then the planets that orbit them. By considering all aspects of planetary existence, a picture then emerges as to how habitable any planet orbiting a red dwarf can be.Common Themes The Discovery of Extraterrestrial Worlds. The Formation of Stars and Planets. Stellar Evolution Near the Bottom of the Main Sequence. The Living Planet. The Carbon Dioxide Connection. Stability of Habitable Atmospheres on Red Dwarf Worlds. The Development and Sustenance of Life. Life Under a Crimson Sun Red Dwarfs, PAR and the Prospects for Photosynthesis. Gliese 581d: The First Potentially Habitable Water-World Discovered? The Evolution of an Earth-Like World. Final Thoughts.
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