AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 109. Extrasolar Planets and Low Mass Objects
Display, Saturday, January 15, 2000, 9:20am-4:00pm, Grand Hall

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[109.11] Capture of Habitable Moons by Migrating Extrasolar Giant Planets

B. Olsson (Penn State Astrobiology Research Center)

In the last decade several extrasolar system giant planets have been found in small, highly eccentric, orbits about main-sequence stars. Such planets are unlikely to be inhabited by lifeforms allowing detection of atmospheric trace gases or other bio-indicators. However, moons around inner stellar system giant planets could harbor terrestrial-type detectable life, provided habitability requirements like the presence of an atmosphere and water are fulfilled.

A numerical work unrelated to this issue has produced serendipitous results with potentially important implications for the habitability of extrasolar system moons. Giant planets in decaying orbits were found to, under some circumstances, capture inner stellar system terrestrial planets, resulting in ``binary planets'' stable over biologically significant times. While purely hypothetical, such systems are relevant in an astrobiological context, since the likelihood of a habitable environment on captured planets is significantly higher than expected for moons formed during the initial accretion of the giant planet.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://stardust.geosc.psu.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: olsson@geosc.psu.edu

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