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Could Aliens Shelter In 'Terminator Zones' on 'Ribbon World' Exoplanets?

What is a 'terminator zone' and why might aliens find a place to live there?

As it turns out, this idea has a long history in science fiction.

Imagine if one side of the Earth always faced the sun. Half of the planet would be stuck in perpetual daylight, the other shrouded in permanent night.

But for aliens in other solar systems, our doomsday scenario may be there everyday and life might get along just fine. In a new study, astronomers propose that extraterrestrial life could exist in so-called terminator zones, the border between light and dark halves of an exoplanet.

"These planets have a permanent day side and a permanent night side," Ana Lobo, an astrophysicist at University of California, Irvine (UCI) and lead author of the new work, said in a statement(opens in new tab). "This is a planet where the dayside can be scorching hot, well beyond habitability, and the night side is going to be freezing, potentially covered in ice. You could have large glaciers on the night side."

(Via Space.com)


(Tidally locked exoplanet with terminator zone)

Fans of science fiction writer Isaac Asimov probably remember the ribbon world of Radole from Foundation and Empire, published in 1952 as a novel, seen originally in 1945 in Astounding Science Fiction:

It was a ribbon world of which the Galaxy boasts a sufficient number, but among which, the inhabited variety is a rarity for the physical requirements are difficult to meet. It was a world, in other words, where the two halves face the monotonous extremes of heat and cold, while the region of possible life is the girdling ribbon of the twilight zone. Such a world invariably sounds uninviting to those who have not tried it, but there exist spots...
(Read more about ribbon world)

However, as far as I know, the first mention of this idea is in Too Many Boards!, a 1931 story by Harl Vincent. He describes such a zone on Mercury, which at that time was believed to be tidally locked to the sun.

As for the phrase "terminator zone", you'll find that first in Exiles of the Moon, a 1931 short story by the Golden Age writing team of Nat Schachner and Al Zagat. It has a slightly different usage.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/5/2023)

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