The Orbits of Life

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Earth can become more habitable for life as long as Jupiter changes its orbit around the Sun, Space.com reported.

In a new paper, astronomers at the University of California-Riverside simulated different arrangements of the solar system and came across some interesting findings.

They explained that a planet’s proximity to its star affects how much radiation it absorbs and its internal climate. They added that planets with more circular orbits maintain a steady distance from their star. Meanwhile, eccentric orbits – or oval-shaped – bring the celestial bodies closer or further away from their stars at different points.

The team noted that if Jupiter had a more eccentric orbit, it would also influence the Earth’s orbit, making it more oval.

This would mean that the Earth would periodically get closer to the Sun than it already gets. Consequently, frozen areas of the planet would become warmer and reach temperatures of the hospitable range – somewhere between 32 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

But researchers also observed that the ability to hold life is also impacted by a planet’s tilt, which influences how much radiation it receives from a star.

In case Jupiter decides to get a little closer to the Sun, it would cause extreme tilting in our world and less sunlight – meaning that a large part of the planet would be frozen.

The authors said that the findings could help astronomers better detect habitable planets outside the solar system.

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