Jones, Barrie W.; Underwood, David R. and Sleep, P. Nick
Prospects for 'Earths' in the Habitable Zones of Known Exoplanetary Systems.
In: 14th Annual Astrophysics Conference, 13-14 October 2003, University of Maryland, MD, USA.
We have shown that Earth-mass planets could survive in variously restricted regions of the habitable zones (HZs) of most of a sample of nine of the 104 main-sequence exoplanetary systems confirmed by mid-November 2003. In a preliminary extrapolation of our results to the other systems, we estimate that roughly a half of these systems could have had an Earth-mass planet confined to the HZ for at least the most recent 1000 Ma. The HZ migrates outwards during the main-sequence lifetime, and so this proportion varies with stellar age — about two thirds of the systems could have such a planet confined to the HZ for at least 1000 Ma at sometime during the main-sequence lifetime. Clearly, these systems should be targeted for exploration for terrestrial planets. We have reached this conclusion by launching putative Earth-mass planets in various orbits and following their fate with mixed-variable symplectic and hybrid integrators. Whether the Earth-mass planets could form in the HZs of the exoplanetary systems is an urgent question that needs further study.
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