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J Br Interplanet Soc. 1992 Jan;45(1):3-12.

An estimate of the prevalence of biocompatible and habitable planets.

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Probability Research Group, London, United Kingdom.


A Monte Carlo computer model of extra-solar planetary formation and evolution, which includes the planetary geochemical carbon cycle, is presented. The results of a run of one million galactic disc stars are shown where the aim was to assess the possible abundance of both biocompatible and habitable planets. (Biocompatible planets are defined as worlds where the long-term presence of surface liquid water provides environmental conditions suitable for the origin and evolution of life. Habitable planets are those worlds with more specifically Earthlike conditions). The model gives an estimate of 1 biocompatible planet per 39 stars, with the subset of habitable planets being much rarer at 1 such planet per 413 stars. The nearest biocompatible planet may thus lie approximately 14 LY distant and the nearest habitable planet approximately 31 LY away. If planets form in multiple star systems then the above planet/star ratios may be more than doubled. By applying the results to stars in the solar neighbourhood, it is possible to identify 28 stars at distances of < 22 LY with a non-zero probability of possessing a biocompatible planet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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