Barnes and his collaborators introduced a formula that gave a higher probability as to whether a planet is worth a closer look. Their habitability index is a product of certain planetary ingredients that make it possible to create a habitable world: incident stellar radiation, eccentricity, albedo and rockiness.
He ran it against the Kepler treasure trove of planets and came across 250 or so that may be habitable. This is how he recommends using it:
Transit data can fool you into thinking there is a planet present, when really the dip in brightness is due to something like sunspots. You need to use an alternate technique such as radial velocity -- looking at the wobbles in the star -- to confirm it.
Once you get more data from radial velocity measurements such as eccentricity, organize your planets in a ranking scheme. Those with the most favorable parameters should be examined by more telescopes to get more relevant information.
He hopes that astronomers using TESS, the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope, and other instruments will be able to make their habitability searches more efficient with the index.
"The resources required for validation can be substantial, especially for the little planets," Barnes said. "Our ranking scheme can prioritize candidates for the validation process."
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