January 15, 2015
Alien planets that orbit close to their parent stars may be at high risk of the ultimate hot-cold scenario, with one side stuck in permanent daylight while the other shrouded in everlasting night. But a thin atmosphere may be enough to save a planet from this fate.
An artist’s concept of Kepler-186f, an Earth-size planet found orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star. A planet like Kepler-186f with a smaller orbit than Earth’s could be at risk of having only one hemisphere face toward the star, with the other hemisphere always facing away. Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech
Size comparison of Kepler-186 f with Earth
Living on a planet with one side in perpetual sunlight and the other in perpetual darkness would pose some significant challenges for survival — the sunny side of the planet might reach boiling…
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