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Space Science

Worlds With Two Suns May Sport Black Plants 211

sciencehabit writes "If Tatooine were real, it would probably be filled with black plants and trees. A new study finds that, to maximize energy absorption for photosynthesis, the flora on worlds that orbit two suns may have evolved to use one or more types of light-absorbing pigments that absorb across a broad range of wavelengths, which would tend to make the plant appear black or gray. Although the idea that planets that could host such life may sound far-fetched, such orbs may not be so rare: The team's computer simulations indicate that Earth-like planets can exist in several types of stable orbits in multistar systems. More than one-fourth of the sunlike stars in our galaxy and about half of the long-lived but dim, cool stars called red dwarfs are found in solar systems containing two or more stars, the researchers note."
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Worlds With Two Suns May Sport Black Plants

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  • Re:Spam (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @05:20PM (#35873766) Homepage

    If you're talking about a system with 2 very similar stars in terms of distance, length of day, intensity, etc.

    But what if one star is dominant? At what point is it not worth harvesting light from the secondary star?

    Rather than black plants that absorb a fuller range of frequencies, you might get 2 parallel evolutionary paths. Green trees would grow tall from the light of the large yellow star, while the underbrush would be full of red leafy ferns which absorb light from the smaller star.

  • I call BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by labradore ( 26729 ) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @05:44PM (#35874030)

    Evolution causes mother nature to be very efficient in her selection of characteristics. It might just be that green is useful to plants because it is the right wavelength for efficient photosynthesis with the sun's light. It might be green because it's much easier for plants to make green chloroplasts than other colors or because green imparts enough energy without overheating the leaf structure or its easier for plants to repair green proteins than other colors. If you read up on it a bit, you find out that green does not really maximize energy production, but it's apparently optimal for most plants. However, there's plenty of earth plants that aren't green! Surprisingly there's few black plants. We think too often about optimizing a single parameter. Usually that parameter is short term cash flow. The natural world is a more-or-less true form of capitalism and it's brutal but it shows us that short-term gain isn't the only thing worth maximizing and in nature there's no way to externalize costs for the long-term. Those that do, don't survive.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!