Why settle for one habitable planet, when you can have 60? An astrophysicist has designed the ultimate star system by cramming in as many Earth-like worlds as possible without breaking the laws of physics.
Sean Raymond of Bordeaux Observatory in France started his game of fantasy star system with a couple of ground rules. First, the arrangement of planets must be scientifically plausible. Second, they must be gravitationally stable over billions of years: there is no point in putting planets into orbit only to watch them spiral into the sun.
To start with he chose a red dwarf star as the system’s host because they have a lower mass than stars like our sun and so live longer, giving a stable habitable zone.
An Earth-sized planet can also have an almost Earth-sized moon, with the two worlds orbiting around a central point. What’s more, two pairs of planets can orbit a star at the same distance, provided that they are separated by 60 degrees, thanks to a couple of gravitationally stable points.
In our solar system these points are normally inhabited by asteroids, rather than planets, but nothing rules out a multiple planet scenario.
Via NewScientist for the full story.