• The two forces could combine to transform uninhabitable “mini-Neptunes” — big planets in outer orbits with solid cores and thick hydrogen atmospheres — into closer-in, gas-free, potentially habitable worlds.
  • Most of the stars in our galaxy are low-mass stars, also called M dwarfs. Smaller and dimmer than the sun, with close-in habitable zones, they make good targets for finding and studying potentially habitable planets. Astronomers expect to find many Earthlike and “super-Earth” planets in the habitable zones of these stars in coming years, so it’s important to know if they might indeed support life.
  • Barnes and Luger note that many other conditions would have to be met for such planets to be habitable. One is the development of an atmosphere right for creating and recycling nutrients globally.

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