February 26, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Habitable Zones Constrained by Tides

The idea of a circumstellar habitable zone – a radial range around a star where an earth-like planet could support life – may be too simplistic.  Science Daily reported that “Tides can render the so-called ‘habitable zone’ around low-mass stars uninhabitable.”  Astronomers at the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam studied the effects of tides on planets around low-mass stars (the most numerous stars in the galaxy) and found that the lack of seasons, the increased heat (and volcanism) and synchronous rotation make them uncomfortable at best, and perhaps uninhabitable.
    “I think that the chances for life existing on exoplanets in the traditional habitable zone around low-mass stars are pretty bleak, when considering tidal effects,” lead researcher Rene Heller remarked.  “If you want to find a second Earth, it seems that you need to look for a second Sun.

So far we have narrowed the habitable zone to:

  • Galactic Habitable Zone, where a star must be located (09/29/2009);
  • Circumstellar Habitable Zone, the right radius from the star (10/08/2010);
  • Continuously Habitable Zone, because too much variety can be lethal (07/21/2007);
  • Temporal Habitable Zone, because habitable zones do not last forever (10/27/2008);
  • Chemical and Thermodynamic Habitable Zone, where water can be liquid (12/30/2003);
  • Ultraviolet Habitable Zone, free from deadly radiation (08/15/2006);
  • Tidal Habitable Zone, which rules out most stars that are small (02/26/2011).
    Other constraints are bound to be realized from time to time, emphasizing the rarity of the sweet spot we inhabit.  This would be, of course, predicted from the Architect’s message that he formed the Earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), but today’s scientists have a bad habit of ruling out Architects from their master plan.  Make a good habit of studying the Architect’s plans whenever starting life construction on our habitable Privileged Planet.
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