If you are familiar with space research, then you might already know that researchers traditionally look for planets in the habitable zone where liquid water might be aplenty. Interestingly, a group of astronomers from Harvard has suggested that we should look at planets near a supermassive black hole.
This latest claim is highly surprising considering the supermassive black holes that are surrounded by disks of gas and dust called active galactic nuclei or AGN. These disks emit high amount of radiation which means there are dead-zone surrounding the areas as the radiation causes atmospheres of the planets extremely toxic or nonexistence. However, the latest research published in the journal Astrophysical Journal, challenges this idea.
“People have mostly been talking about the detrimental effects of black holes,” Manasvi Lingam said. “We wanted to reexamine how detrimental the radiation is… and ask ourselves if there were any positives.”
In order to find out any possibility of habitable planets in the area known as dead zone, the researchers created computer generated models to simulate the planets. Interestingly, the researchers were able to identify dead zones similar to habitable zones in different star systems. The researchers claimed that if a planet is located in this area, the planet’s atmosphere would remain intact but the radiation would in fact create life supporting compounds in the process.
According to the scientists, previous researches have greatly exaggerated the effects of black holes on a planet’s atmosphere. For instance, although previously researchers claimed that a black hole of the size of Milky Way’s Sagittarius A would eliminate atmosphere of a planet within 3,200 light years, the computer simulation revealed that the effects would actually end at 100 light years.