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Tue Mar 5, 2013, 10:17 AM

The 'habitable edge' of exomoons

The discovery of alien moons will open up an exciting new frontier in the continuing hunt for habitable worlds outside the Solar System. With the confirmation of exomoons likely right around the corner, researchers have begun addressing the unique and un-Earthly factors that might affect their habitability. Because exomoons orbit a larger planetary body, they have an additional set of constraints on their potential livability than planets themselves.

Examples include eclipses by their host planet, as well as reflected sunlight and heat emissions. Most of all, gravitationally-induced tidal heating by a host planet can dramatically impact a moon's climate and geology.

In essence, compared to planets, exomoons have additional sources of energy that can alter their "energy budgets," which, if too high, can turn a temperate, potential paradise into a scorched wasteland. "What discriminates the habitability of a satellite from the habitability of a planet in general is that it has different contributions to its energy budget," said René Heller, a postdoctoral research associate at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany.

The "habitable edge"

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-03-habitable-edge-exomoons.html#jCp

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Reply The 'habitable edge' of exomoons (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Mar 2013 OP
Warpy Mar 2013 #1

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Tue Mar 5, 2013, 01:32 PM

1. Some are saying that even Mercury has the capacity for life

within the polar craters, where shadow is constant and ice can exist on a planet which would otherwise incinerate it.

I think the caveat is "life as we would recognize it" since we have no idea what forms life can take on exotic planets and moons.

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