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Science. 2004 Jan 2;303(5654):59-62.

The galactic habitable zone and the age distribution of complex life in the Milky Way.

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  • 1Department of Astrophysics, University of New South Wales (NSW), Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. charley@bat.phys.unsw.edu.au

Abstract

We modeled the evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy to trace the distribution in space and time of four prerequisites for complex life: the presence of a host star, enough heavy elements to form terrestrial planets, sufficient time for biological evolution, and an environment free of life-extinguishing supernovae. We identified the Galactic habitable zone (GHZ) as an annular region between 7 and 9 kiloparsecs from the Galactic center that widens with time and is composed of stars that formed between 8 and 4 billion years ago. This GHZ yields an age distribution for the complex life that may inhabit our Galaxy. We found that 75% of the stars in the GHZ are older than the Sun.

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PMID:
14704421
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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