UW Today

March 11, 2015

‘Chaotic Earths': Some habitable exoplanets could experience wildly unpredictable climates

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

Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds

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

‘Mirage Earth’ exoplanets may have burned away chances for life

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

Companion planets can increase old worlds’ chance at life

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

Astronomers: ‘Tilt-a-worlds’ could harbor life

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.