Exoplanet Habitability and an Analysis of Gliese 436 b

Gillette, Austin
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Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. Many scientists have postulated that life may exist on these extra solar bodies. Earth-like exoplanets are the ideal target for habitability. The most important factor to consider when analyzing habitability is the existence of liquid water. Liquid water is most likely to exist if an exoplanet orbits within a star’s habitable zone. Density is another important factor, because exoplanets with a similar density to earth are targets for further habitability research. In order to apply these concepts, the exoplanet Gliese 436 b was observed using the Paul and Jane Meyer Observatory during a transit of its host star. A light curve was plotted from the images taken in order to determine the radius and density of Gliese 436 b. A habitability zone calculation was also performed. Using this information, a determination on the habitability of Gliese 436 b was made.