• Astronomers proposed a new way for finding habitable exoplanets
  • Goldilocks stars have the ideal temperature to support habitable exoplanets
  • K-Type stars are Goldilocks stars that are not too hot or too cold

Astronomers have identified a new factor that can help determine the potential habitability of an exoplanet. According to the astronomers, the type of host star that an exoplanet orbits can affect its habitable conditions.

The new concept was presented by astronomers from the Villanova University in Pennsylvania. It was discussed during the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The habitability of an exoplanet is usually determined if it is located within the Goldilocks zone. This is a region that’s not too far or too close from a host star. Due to its ideal proximity, exoplanets within the Goldilocks zone are not too hot or too cold. This means the exoplanets have ideal environmental conditions that can allow liquid water to exist.

Although the Goldilocks zone has been a staple factor in analyzing an alien planet’s habitability, astronomers noted that it is not the only criterion that can determine an exoplanet’s chances of hosting life.

According to astronomers, in addition to the Goldilocks zone, Goldilocks stars can also be used to identify potentially habitable exoplanets. As noted by astronomers, not all stars are alike. While some are extremely bright and hot such as the blue OB stars, others are a bit cooler such as the red M-type dwarfs.

Aside from these kinds of stars, the astronomers noted that there is another type that has just the right conditions to allow life to flourish on an exoplanet. According to the astronomers, this is called a K-type star, which is a bit warmer than a red dwarf and a little cooler than the Sun.

Even though they are not in the Goldilocks zone, exoplanets orbiting a K-type star could still have habitable conditions due to the host star’s ideal temperature.

“K-dwarf stars are in the 'sweet spot,' with properties intermediate between the rarer, more luminous, but shorter-lived solar-type stars and the more numerous red dwarf stars,” astronomer Edward Guinan explained in a statement.”

“The K stars, especially the warmer ones, have the best of all worlds,” he added. “If you are looking for planets with habitability, the abundance of K stars pump up your chances of finding life.”

51 Pegasi b, seen here in an artist's impression, was the first exoplanet discovered 24 years ago
51 Pegasi b, seen here in an artist's impression, was the first exoplanet discovered 24 years ago EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / NICK RISINGER