Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

How habitable zones and super-Earths lead us astray

As scientists, the terminology we choose influences our thinking as it carries our messages to colleagues and the public. In the face of pressure to turn science into clickbait, maintaining precision in the language we use is critical to dispel misinformation and, more broadly, to enable scientific progress.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Scharf, C. A. Should we expect other Earth-like planets at all? Scientific American (26 December 2012);

  2. Winkie, L. The 5 best times NASA discovered water on Mars. The Daily Dot (29 September 2015);

  3. Kasting, J. F., Whitmire, D. P. & Reynolds, R. T. Icarus 101, 108–128 (1993).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Arrhenius, S. The Destinies of the Stars (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1918).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Anglada-Escudé, G. et al. Nature 536, 437–440 (2016).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Williams, M. Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri discovered. Universe Today (26 September 2016);

  7. Morgan, W. J. J. Geophys. Res. 73, 1959–1982 (1968).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Kaula, W. M. & Phillips, R. J. Geophys. Res. Lett. 8, 1187–1190 (1981).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. O'Reilly, T. C. & Davies, G. F. Geophys. Res. Lett. 8, 313–316 (1981).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to William B. Moore.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moore, W., Lenardic, A., Jellinek, A. et al. How habitable zones and super-Earths lead us astray. Nat Astron 1, 0043 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing