· · · ·

The only known planet in orbit around the star Kochab, an orange giant some 126 light years from the Solar System in the constellation of Ursa Minor. Kochab b is a giant planet, some six times the mass of Jupiter, pursuing a 522-day orbit about 1.4 AU from its parent star (that is, a little less than the distance of Mars from the Sun).

Because Kochab is a much larger and more luminous star than the Sun, its habitable zone - the region in which water can exist in liquid form - is consequently much farther away. Taking these factors into account, the orbital distance of Kochab b places it just on the inner edge of this habitable region. It is implausible that life might exist on such a massive world, but if it possesses any moons, conditions for life may be more suitable there. These questions are made more complicated, however, by the fact that the star Kochab is a pulsating variable: its energy output shifts over time, and so, theoretically, does the distance of the habitable zone from the star.


Related Entries