SSP seminar

How to find habitable earths around white dwarfs

Eric Agol (University of Washington)

Tuesday 26th July 2011, 12:30 pm
Pratt conference room, 60 Garden Street

At the peak of the white dwarf luminosity function, the liquid water 'habitable zone' is centered at 0.01 AU. This happens to coincide with twice the Roche limit for Earth-density planets. If planets migrate inward or reform close to some white dwarfs after the red giant phase, the closest planets will spend billions of years in the habitable zone. A transit survey of nearby white dwarfs which is carried out with modest aperture ground-based telescopes would be biased towards detecting Earth-temperature planets, should they exist, and in certain cases would be biased towards detecting Earth-sized planets. I will discuss the potential for carrying out such a survey, and the possible properties of planets in the white dwarf habitable zone.


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