Habitable Zone: Multiple Star Systems (Model Included)

Greet­ings and hope you have a won­der­ful new year! 

I haven’t post­ed any­thing in a while because I’m real­ly busy with my third sto­ry, yet I found a nice thing to bring to my read­ers and con­tin­ue this blog’s the­mat­ic tra­di­tion. So this month’s and year’s first post will be about cal­cu­lat­ing the hab­it­able zone of mul­ti­ple star sys­tems.

The hab­it­abil­i­ty of a plan­et depends on many fac­tors, includ­ing size, atmos­pher­ic com­po­si­tion, and orbital dynam­ics of the plan­et. In addi­tion to that it also depends on the total flux received at the top of the planet’s atmos­phere and the stel­lar mul­ti­plic­i­ty plays an impor­tant role in deter­min­ing the range and loca­tion of the system’s hab­it­able zone.


Sur­veys of star-form­ing regions have indi­cat­ed that approx­i­mate­ly 70% of all stars in our galaxy are in bina­ry or mul­ti­ple star sys­tems (Bat­ten et al. 1989), so nat­u­ral­ly such abun­dance raised the ques­tion that whether mul­ti-star plan­e­tary sys­tems can be hab­it­able.

Depend­ing on their sur­face tem­per­a­tures and orbital char­ac­ter­is­tics, each star of the sys­tem will have a dif­fer­ent con­tri­bu­tion to the total flux at the loca­tion of the plan­et.

A com­pre­hen­sive method­ol­o­gy and an inter­ac­tive web­site for cal­cu­lat­ing the hab­it­able zone (HZ) of mul­ti­ple star sys­tems is described in the recent paper. There you’ll find the details of the meth­ods and their appli­ca­tion to some of the mul­ti­ple star sys­tems detect­ed by the Kepler space tele­scope, as well as instruc­tions for using their inter­ac­tive web­site with the hab­zone cal­cu­la­tor. Its capa­bil­i­ties are demon­strat­ed by cal­cu­lat­ing the HZ for two inter­est­ing ana­lyt­i­cal solu­tions of the three-body prob­lem.

Jeno Marz
JENO MARZ is a science fiction writer from Latvia, Northern Europe, with background in electronics engineering and computer science. She is the author of two serial novels, Falaha’s Journey: A Spacegirl’s Account in Three Movements and Falaha’s Journey into Pleasure. Marz is current at work on a new SF trilogy. All her fiction is aimed at an adult audience.

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