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STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series

Habitable Zones and the Frequency of Potential Habitable Planets in Extrasolar Planetary Systems

Presented by: Ravi Kumar Kopparapu (Department of Geosciences, Penn State University)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes   Broadcast date: May 03, 2013
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Identifying terrestrial planets in the habitable zones (HZs) of other stars is one of the primary goals of ongoing exoplanet surveys and proposed space-based flagship missions. In this talk, I will discuss about our recent results on new estimates of HZs around Main-sequence stars. According to our new model, the inner and outer HZ limits for our Solar System are at 0.99 AU and 1.67 AU, respectively, suggesting that the present Earth lies near the inner edge. Our model does not include the radiative effects of clouds; thus, the actual HZ boundaries may be broader than our estimates. Applying the new HZ limits to cool, low mass stars (M-dwarfs) in NASA's "Kepler" data, we find that potentially habitable planets around M-dwarfs are more common than previously reported. The mean distance to the nearest habitable planet may be as close as 7 light years from us.