Forget Earth-like Planets. To Find Life, Look for "Eyeball Planets"
There's been a lot of hype about alien life lately, from the ridiculous viral video posted by the hacking group Anonymous to astronomer Chris Impey's wild predictions.
Now researchers are claiming the best way to find extraterrestrial life is to explore "eyeball planets."
Eyeball planets look exactly how you'd expect them to look -- like giant eyeballs. One side of the planet is "tidally locked," or permanently faced towards its host red dwarf star, like the moon is to Earth.
If you were to stand on the surface of an eyeball planet, the sun would remain fixed in one spot in the sky, which results in one side of the planet having permanent daytime, while the other side has permanent nighttime.
"For me, the eyeballs are just one example of the plethora of crazy things we are finding out there in space," lead author Daniel Angerhausen told Astrobiology Magazine. "In the field of exoplanets we find hot Jupiters, highly eccentric planets that light up like comets when they come close in to their host star, or evaporating Mercurys -- all of them planets that we don't have in our solar system and that astronomers did not even dream about 10 or 20 years ago."
There are two types of eyeball planets -- hot eyeball planets and icy eyeball planets.
A "hot" eyeball planet is located closer to its dwarf star, making the day side boiling hot and the night side freezing cold.
So, How Could Life Thrive On A Planet Like This?
Researchers claim that the "terminator," or the boundary between the day side and the night side, could be perfect for life to thrive.
"It is not obvious that these planets could be stable for long periods, which we believe is necessary for the origin, maintenance and evolution of life," astrobiologist Douglas Galante said. "Many more studies have to be done, theoretical, experimental and observational, so that we better understand the habitability of these planets."