April 19, 2017
The lead investigator of the research team that discovered Proxima Centauri b, the closest exoplanet, will join UW astrobiologists May 3 to discuss the planet’s potential for life and even the possibility of sending spacecraft to the world.
August 29, 2016
The world’s attention is now on Proxima Centauri b, a possibly Earth-like planet about 4.22 light-years away. It’s in its star’s habitable zone — but could it in fact be habitable? If so, the planet evolved very different than Earth, say researchers at the University of Washington-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory.
February 29, 2016
New research from the UW-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory will help astronomers better identify — and thus rule out — “false positives” in the search for life beyond Earth.
February 2, 2016
We know the Earth is habitable because — well, here we are. But would it look like a good candidate for life from hundreds of light-years away?
October 5, 2015
Astronomers with the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have created the “habitility index for transiting planets” to rank exoplanets to help prioritize which warrant close inspection in the search for life beyond Earth.
September 28, 2015
Earth-like planets around small stars likely have protective magnetic fields, aiding chance for life
Earth-like planets orbiting close to small stars probably have magnetic fields that protect them from stellar radiation and help maintain surface conditions that could be conducive to life, according to research by UW astronomers.
March 11, 2015
New research by UW astronomer Rory Barnes and co-authors describes possible planetary systems where a gravitational nudge from one planet with just the right orbital configuration and tilt could have a mild to devastating effect on the orbit and climate of another, possibly habitable world.
January 28, 2015
Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets — tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity — might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, University of Washington astronomers have found.
December 2, 2014
Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars are prime targets in the search for life. But new research led by an astronomy graduate student at the UW indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.
July 31, 2014
Having a companion in old age is good for people — and, it turns out, might extend the chance for life on certain Earth-sized planets in the cosmos as well.
April 15, 2014
A fluctuating tilt in a planet’s orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah’s Weber State University and NASA. In fact, sometimes it helps.