Determination of habitable zones in extrasolar planetary systems: Where are Gaia's sisters?


  • Siegfried Franck,

  • Werner von Bloh,

  • Christine Bounama,

  • Matthias Steffen,

  • Detlef Schönberner,

  • Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber


A general modeling scheme for assessing the suitability for life of extrasolar planets is presented. The scheme focuses on the identification of the “habitable zone” in main sequence star planetary systems accommodating Earth-like components. Our definition of habitability is based on the long-term possibility of photosynthetic biomass production under geodynamic conditions. Therefore all the pertinent astrophysical, climatological, biogeochemical, and geodynamic processes involved in the generation of photosynthesis-driven life conditions are taken into account. Implicitly, a cogenetic origin of the central star and the orbiting planet is assumed. A geostatic model version is developed and investigated in parallel for demonstration purposes. The numerical solution of the advanced geodynamic model yields realistic lookup diagrams for convenient habitability determination. As an illustration, the MACHO-98-BLG-35 event is scrutinized. It is shown that this event is definitely not tantamount to the discovery of one of Gaia's sisters.