A new study has found that a world of alien rocks composed of hydrogen and helium may seem as lifeless as we have known for billions of years, with essential features such as excellent conditions and liquid water.
On Earth, there is life almost everywhere where there is water. Thus, the search for life in a foreign land usually focuses on the Earth’s surface being cool enough to capture the liquid, which astronomers call home. Despite this need, scientists are still unsure how much the exoplanet should fit on the Earth to support life.
Previous observations of distant lands suggest that many planets may differ from ours. For example, super-Earths – planets with rocks up to 10 feet in diameter – are not part of our solar system but are very common elsewhere.
“The exoplanets we see are very different from the planets of our solar system, and that is a good argument for continuing to think outside the box when it comes to living,” lead study author Marit Mol Lous, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Zürich, told Space.com.
In a new study, researchers investigated how Super-Earth could sustain life. So far, astronomers have found only super-Earths in orbit around the stars since they are the most visible ones. However, earlier computer models of planetary construction have suggested that many super-Earth planets could orbit their leads.
The Super-Earth, away from its stars, may store the hydrogen and helium gas that formed its planetary systems in its youth. Combined, hydrogen and helium make up 99.9 percent of the known material in the universe; the heat from the star can absorb these gases from any Earth above them, but super-Earths far from the star may retain this ancient atmosphere.
In a new study, researchers investigated whether the vast expanses of greenhouse gases might appear uninhabitable. Scientists note that if the atmosphere of such a universe were large enough, its hydrogen would be a gas that traps heat, trapping heat from a star even across planetary orbits.
Scientists have established a computer simulation of Super-Earths between Earth’s ten times the atmosphere’s mass, which is rich in hydrogen and helium orbiting 1 to 100 units of stars (AUs). (One AU is the distance between Earth and the sun, which is 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.)
The researchers found that super-Earths at a scale greater than 2 AU could handle cooler climates and surface water between the ages of 5 and 8 billion. Such findings suggest that “we should also consider unusual habitats when investigating the habitat of other planets,” said Mol Lous.