Life might arise in the darkest of places: the moon of a planet wandering the galaxy without a star.
The gravitational tug-of-war between a moon and its planet can keep certain satellites toasty enough for liquid water to exist there — a condition widely considered crucial for life. Now computer simulations suggest that, given the right orbit and atmosphere, some moons orbiting rogue planets can stay warm for over a billion years, astrophysicist Giulia Roccetti reported March 23 at the PLANET-ESLAB 2023 Symposium. She and her colleagues also report their findings March 20 in the International Journal of Astrobiology.
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