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Biology Articles » Astrobiology » The occurrence of Jovian planets and the habitability of planetary systems

Abstract
- The occurrence of Jovian planets and the habitability of planetary systems

 

The occurrence of Jovian planets and the habitability of planetary systems

 

Jonathan I. Lunine*

Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0092

Edited by Robert P. Kirshner, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA, and approved December 12, 2000 (received for review November 1, 2000)


Planets of mass comparable to or larger than Jupiter's have been detected around over 50 stars, and for one such object a definitive test of its nature as a gas giant has been accomplished with data from an observed planetary transit. By virtue of their strong gravitational pull, giant planets define the dynamical and collisional environment within which terrestrial planets form. In our solar system, the position and timing of the formation of Jupiter determined the amount and source of the volatiles from which Earth's oceans and the source elements for life were derived. This paper reviews and brings together diverse observational and modeling results to infer the frequency and distribution of giant planets around solar-type stars and to assess implications for the habitability of terrestrial planets.

Source: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA  vol. 98, n3, pp. 809-814, January 30, 2001.


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