Scientists find promising ‘super-habitable’ planets that may be ‘better’ than Earth
The search for exoplanets better than Earth has already yielded results.
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When you title a research paper “In search of a planet better than Earth,” you are not playing games.
Earth, the only place we know for sure harbors life, sets a high goal for all other planets.
Dirk Schulze-Makuch, A geobiologist at Washington State University (WSU) led a study published in the journal Astrobiology last month.
The document identifies two dozen exoplanets (planets located outside our solar system) that might be “super-habitable” worlds more suitable for life than ours.
The researchers created a set of criteria for planets to rate as potentially super habitable.
This list includes an age between 5 billion and 8 billion years (Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old) and a location within a star’s habitable zone where liquid water could exist. They also looked for long-lived stars that were cooler than our sun.
Rather than focus on similarities to Earth, the team looked for planets that were more massive than our own. “One that is around 1.5 times the mass of Earth would be expected to retain its inner warming through radioactive decay for longer and also have stronger gravity to retain an atmosphere for a longer period of time,” he said. WSU in a statement Monday.
The top 24 contenders for super-talkable planets they found are more than 100 light-years away, But Schulze-Makuch said the study could help focus future observing efforts, with a suite of specialized telescopes.
“With the next space telescopes coming closer, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” said Schulze-Makuch, professor at WSU and the Technical University of Berlin. “We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we must be careful not to get stuck looking for a second Earth because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours. “