Extraterrestrial life

Idle moment: If a life-friendly planet orbited a binary star system, would the flowers be black?

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ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2011) – A sky with two suns is a favourite image for science fiction films, but how would a binary star system affect life  evolving on an orbiting planet? Jack O’Malley-James of the University of St Andrews has studied what plants might be like on an Earth-like  planet with two or three suns and found that they may appear black or grey.

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“If a planet were found in a system with two or more stars, there would potentially be multiple sources of energy available to drive photosynthesis. The temperature of a star determines its colour and, hence, the colour of light used for photosynthesis. Depending on the colours of their star-light, plants would evolve very differently,” said O’Malley-James.

Some gardeners would be surprised that plants would live under such circumstances, but if they evolved in place, the question arises as to what other adaptations they would need.

2 Replies to “Idle moment: If a life-friendly planet orbited a binary star system, would the flowers be black?

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    A life-friendly plant orbiting a binary star system?

  2. 2
    Kyrilluk says:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me very unlikely the existence of a planet with two suns. The issue is one of dynamics: the solutions of the equations of motion of a 3 bodies problem (one planet + 2 suns) are chaotics.

    Please have a look to this little simulator( http://www.xjtek.com/anylogic/demo_models/106/). It describes one “stable” solution. But then if you modify very slighly the parameters you will see that the system revert to chaotic motion (with the planet coliding with one of the Sun for example).

    Even in the case of the “stable” solution, the variation in energy input from the two suns are phenomenal.

    It’s worrying to see how much junk is being publish in the actual scientific litterature nowadays.

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