Astrophysicists at the University of Bern conducting computer simulations of the formation of planets orbiting in the habitable zone of low-mass stars, such as the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, show that these planets are most likely to be roughly the size of the Earth and to contain large amounts of water.
New research reveals that fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harbouring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot. Computer simulations show that planets similar to or larger in mass than the Earth that are born with thick envelopes of hydrogen and helium are likely to retain their stifling atmospheres.
An accidental find of a collection of young red dwarf stars close to our solar system could give us a rare glimpse of slow-motion planet formation. Astronomers from The Australian National University and University of New South Wales, Canberra found large discs of dust around two of the stars, telltale signs of planets in the process of forming.