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Research by a University of Texas at Arlington astrophysicist sheds greater light on S-type and P-type binary stars and forms the basis for BinHab, a new online tool that can be used to calculate the regions of binary systems favorable for life, commonly known as habitable zones.

In P-type systems the planet orbits both binary stars. In S-type systems, the planet orbits only one of the stellar components with the second component left to agitate the setting of the planet.

Astrophysicists have been tackling the problem of identifying for many years. However, the method developed by UT Arlington Physics Professor Manfred Cuntz provides a comprehensive mathematical approach for both types of habitability.

"The challenge is to properly consider two separate criteria consisting in the amounts of stellar radiation, which provides a favorable planetary climate for life, and the gravitational influence of both stars on an existing planet," Cuntz said.

Cuntz presents his work in a paper to be published in January 2015 in the Astrophysical Journal, a lead publication in this field of study. The paper is available online here. The first paper in the series was published in the journal in Jan. 2014 and is available here. Some of his results will also be presented at the 225th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January in Seattle.

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