A research team from the University of California, Riverside, including astrobiologist Stephen Kane, has been crunching the data and found evidence that suggests some stars could potentially host as many as seven Earth-like planets. The cabbie out to this prediction is that the solar systems can’t have a planet like Jupiter to mess things up.
Kane and the other researchers came to their conclusion after investigating the Trappist-1 system, which is home to several Earth-like planets that orbit in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water could exist. Kane says that studying the system made him wonder how many habitable planets a star can have and why our star only has one. The researchers created a solar system computer model and ran simulations on planet interactions over vast time spans.
The data showed that a sun-like star could support up to six planets with liquid water while other stars could possibly handle up to seven. Kane says that if you added more than seven planets to the simulation, the planets became too close to each other and destabilized each others orbits. While the data suggests that stars could host multiple Earth-like planets, we have spotted few systems that appear to have multiple planets in their habitable zone.
Kane and the team of scientists hope that their research could help guide astronomers in the search for habitable-zone exoplanets. Kane is particularly interested in stars with collections of smaller planets. As for why I shoulder system doesn’t have more life-friendly planets, Kane blames Jupiter’s size and the impact it has on the orbits of other planets in the system. Essentially, if our solar system didn’t have massive Jupiter ruining everything, we could have another habitable planet nearby.