Irvine, Calif., March 16, 2023 — In a new study, University of California, Irvine astronomers describe how extraterrestrial life has the potential to exist on distant exoplanets inside a special area called the “terminator zone,” which is a ring on planets that have one side that always faces its star and one side that is always dark.
“These planets have a permanent day side and a permanent night side,” said Ana Lobo, a postdoctoral researcher in the UCI Department of Physics & Astronomy who led the new work, which just published in The Astrophysical Journal. Lobo added that such planets are particularly common because they exist around stars that make up about 70 percent of the stars seen in the night sky – so-called M-dwarf stars, which are relatively dimmer than our sun.
The terminator is the dividing line between the day and night sides of the planet. Terminator zones could exist in that “just right” temperature zone between too hot and too cold.