A recent research paper by astronomers from the University of California, Irvine, explains the possibility of extraterrestrial life on faraway exoplanets within the designated “terminator zone.” This zone is essentially a belt located on planets that have a permanently lit side facing the star and a perpetually dark side.
The information is brought by UCI News, and the zone in question is situated on planets that have a permanent day and night side, and the area is in the “just right” temperature range for liquid water to exist, a crucial component for life. The researchers believe that terminator planets are promising habitats for life and could sustain habitable climates confined to the terminator region, which historically has not been studied much.
The focus on liquid water is essential
The research team used software to model the climate of these terminator planets and found that they can retain liquid water if there is enough land on the planet. This finding could potentially lead to a shift in the way that exoplanet climates are studied in the search for signs of life, as biosignatures could only be present in specific parts of the planet’s atmosphere. Finally, the research will also inform future efforts by telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope or the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor telescope currently in development at NASA as they search for planets that may host extraterrestrial life.
Liquid water is considered a crucial ingredient for life as we know it. It is a key factor in the habitability of planets and is required for the existence of most organisms on Earth. Life forms need water to perform various functions, such as transporting nutrients and waste, regulating body temperature, and carrying out chemical reactions that sustain life. Water also acts as a solvent, allowing for the dissolution and distribution of essential minerals, salts, and organic compounds necessary for life.