From Design & Trend, by Jessica Passananti:
Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University studied the influence of cloud behavior on exoplanets far from our solar system. The newly found clouds double the amount of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe. In the Milky Way Galaxy, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone.
The study, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, relied on computer simulations of cloud behavior on distant planets. The observed clouds dramatically expanded the habitable zone of red dwarfs, which are smaller and fainter than stars like the sun.
The “habitable zone” refers to the space around a star where orbiting planets can harbor liquid on the surface.”Most of the planets in the Milky Way orbit red dwarfs,” said Nicolas Cowan, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. “A thermostat that makes such planets more clement means we don’t have to look as far to find a habitable planet.”
“Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth,” said Abbot, an assistant professor in geophysical sciences. “They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That’s part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life.”
If the James Webb Telescope detects cloud signals from an outside planet, it is an almost for certain confirmation that surface liquid water does exist.