Written by Nihal Singh Dhingra, a grade 10 student.
A Goldilocks zone refers to the zone (area) around a star that is habitable, mainly because the temperature in this zone is just right- not too hot or not too cold, for water to exist in liquid form, and thus for life to exist.
So basically, to put it simply, the distance that the Earth orbits the Sun is just right for water to remain a liquid. This distance from the Sun is called the habitable zone, or the Goldilocks zone (just like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears and the porridge being just right to eat)
Planets within the Goldilocks zone allow scientists to search for a place where life could sustain life on Earth.
The 8 planets in our solar system can be grouped into two categories
- The inner rocky planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) and the
- Outer gas giants ( Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto)
Out of all of the planets of the solar system, only the Earth lies in the Goldilocks Zone (and thus, the only planet with life on it – in our solar system that is)
Mercury and Venus are too close to the sun and thus cannot harbour water in a liquid state. Mars is too far from it to sustain life without water in a liquid state.
Earth is the only planet in the habitable zone of our solar system-far enough from the sun so that all the water does not boil or freeze.
So why are scientists looking for stars which can sustain life like on Earth?
Astro scientists are looking for planets that orbit other stars known as Exoplanets. Currently, 4000 have been identified and scientists are in search of any that lies in the Goldilocks zone and can sustain life like on Earth. Wouldn’t it be exciting to know if life exists somewhere else too (and in what form?)