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Habitable Planets, 2080

artists concept of an alien planet

Could life exist in regions around stars that burn brighter than the sun? Physics Professor Manfred Cuntz says scientists should not dismiss the possibility. In a paper published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Dr. Cuntz teamed with doctoral student Satoko Sato and researchers from the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. They argue that F-type stars have a wide habitability zone—the area where conditions are right for Earth-type planets to develop and sustain life. Stars fall into seven lettered categories according to their surface temperature, but they also differ in other factors such as mass, luminosity, and abundance in the universe. Scientists looking for habitable planets typically have focused on the less massive end of the spectrum, where our own G-type sun as well as the even smaller K- and M-type stars reside. F-types are in the middle of the scale, larger and hotter than our sun. Their increased ultraviolet radiation has been thought to be a limiting factor for sustaining life. In addition, there just aren’t as many of them. But Cuntz contends there’s hope for F-type stars. “There is a gap in attention from the scientific community when it comes to knowledge about F-type stars, and that is what our research is working to fill,” he says. “It appears they may indeed be a good place to look for habitable planets.”

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