Satellites in binary star systems have more chances to live than single-star systems, a new study shows.
According to research presented at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January: double stars suppress solar radiation and stellar wind, thereby creating a more favorable environment for life and expanding the habitable zone around solar systems.
"Two stars" calm "each other in terms of activity," said Paul Mason, an astrophysicist at the University of Texas at El Paso. Paul Mason presented research results that used data collected by the Kepler spacecraft to search for potentially habitable exoplanets in our area of the Milky Way galaxy.
Although today thousands of planets have been discovered outside the solar system, so far there has been no confirmation of the discovery of moons orbiting these planets. Active young stars rotate rapidly, emitting radiation and stellar wind, which can negatively affect the potential life of the planets and moons nearby. A close binary system of stars can weaken this influence. Double stars can exist in different configurations. Some are widely spaced, so that one planet rotates around one star, while another planet rotates around a second star. Other binary stars can be extremely close to each other, synchronizing their rotation for billions of years. Mason's research is focused on a pair of stars that revolve around each other for 10 to 60 Earth days, with a planet in orbit around both stars. They are known as intercomponent systems. Twin stars exert tidal forces on each other, causing slowing down of rotation and weakening radiation and stellar wind. Fast moving stellar winds can deprive the moon or a planet of the atmosphere, leaving it open to brutal radiation bombardment, which can put the development of life. At the same time, binary stars can expand the boundaries of the area in which water can exist and which is usually called the “life zone”. "The habitable zone in the dual system is a bit wider, since in this case you have light from two stars, not from one," said Paul Mason. This distance can have a decisive role, because if a planet rotates too close to its parent star, its satellite can simply be destroyed. “The closer a planet is to a star, the smaller its gravitational influence,” said David Kipping, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Kipping, who does not participate in the study, uses data obtained from Kepler to search for exolun.
According to Mason, if the Sun had a neighbor-star, the composition of the solar system would have changed significantly. The water in the atmosphere of Venus would most likely evaporate, and the Earth itself would have a different atmosphere.