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How alien can a planet be and still support life?

Earth scientists reimagine the Goldilocks zone and what makes a planet habitable

By
1:00pm, April 19, 2016
planets

THINKING OUTSIDE THE GOLDILOCKS ZONE  The hunt for extraterrestrial life has long focused on planets at a just-right distance from alien stars, where liquid water can exist on a planet’s surface.

Just how fantastical a planet can be and still support recognizable life isn’t just a question for science fiction. Astronomers are searching the stars for otherworldly inhabitants, and they need a road map. Which planets are most likely to harbor life? That’s where geoscientists’ imaginations come in. Applying their knowledge of how our world works and what allows life to flourish, they are envisioning what kind of other planetary configurations could sustain thriving biospheres.

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