Starry, Starry Night

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A group of UT Arlington astrophysicists hopes its work will help NASA determine whether life exists in a nearby star system. Last year the agency revealed that its Kepler mission had located a cold, gaseous planet, named Kepler-16b, orbiting two stars within our galaxy. After studying the data, the UT Arlington team concluded that an Earth-type planet could exist in the star system’s “habitable zone” as an exomoon orbiting Kepler-16b. The researchers also believe that an extended habitable zone may exist outside the planet’s orbit. “This is an assessment of the possibilities,” says physics Professor Zdzislaw Musielak. “We’re telling them where a planet has to be in the system to be habitable. We’re hoping they will look there.” The team includes Dr. Musielak, Associate Professor Manfred Cuntz, and doctoral student Billy Quarles.

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