The Goldilocks Zone is a concept in science and astronomy that refers to the distance between a star’s innermost habitation and its outermost habitation. It is called the Goldilocks zone because the zone is located in the habitable zone of a star. The habitable zone of a star is the range of distances from a star where the temperature of the surface of a planet can support liquid water and life.
Why Is It Called The Goldilocks Zone?
The Goldilocks zone is a region in space that is close enough to a star to support liquid water, but far enough away not to become too hot or cold. The zone was discovered in the early 20th century. This area is named after the girl in the children’s fairy tale, Goldilocks, who tasted porridge that was too hot and porridge that was too cold, before settling for porridge that was ‘just right’.
It is a fitting name for the habitable zone around a planet. Where the conditions need to be very particular to have the potential to support life. A major condition for this is the ability to support liquid water and that is what we look for when identifying Earth like planets that could support life.
Exoplanets In The Goldilocks Zone
The discovery of exoplanets in the Goldilocks zone is one of the most exciting discoveries in modern astronomy. Many of the most exciting exoplanet discoveries have been made in the habitable zone. Some of the most well-known exoplanets in this zone include Kepler-62f and Kepler-186f. Both of these exoplanets were discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. This was specifically designed to find exoplanets in the Goldilocks zone of other stars.
In 2016, astronomers discovered a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Making it the first exoplanet ever discovered in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” around a red dwarf star. Proxima Centauri b, is about 4.2 light years from Earth in the Alpha Centauri tri-star system. That makes it the closest exoplanet to our solar system. Future observatories such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope will help astronomers learn more about the planet. As well as its atmosphere, and its potential habitability.
It Needs To Be Just Right
Exoplanets have been found in the habitable zone of other stars. Some exoplanets are tidally locked, one side always facing the star. Because of this, one side will always be in daylight and the other in darkness. Some exoplanets have atmospheric temperatures so high that they are uninhabitable by Earth life. Others are so far away from their stars that they are too cold to support liquid water on their surfaces.