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Volcanoes and oceans that are more common on exoplanets than we thought



In recent decades, astronomers have confirmed the existence of over 4,000 exoplanets. Many of the spheres discovered have a similar size to Earth and conditions that support life support. These conditions include volcanic or hydrothermal activity, which is something that can help in the birth of life on earth.

Scientists looked at 53 exoplanets with the closest dimensions to Earth. The criterion was a mass up to 8 times larger than our planet and a radius twice the size of the Earth. Scientists have modeled how geologically active these worlds can be. It turned out that all the analyzed worlds probably had volcanic activity, and about 1/4 were “water worlds”, with oceans hidden under the ice crust.

An intriguing relationship has been found between the potential properties of certain planets and ice moons in the solar system, such as Europe (Jupiter’s moon) and Enceladus (Saturn’s moon). Both objects are considered water worlds and, according to many researchers, life can exist on them. If there are exoplanets that have outer layers of ice, deep oceans and geysers, such as these moons, they may also be candidates for life support.

– If we see that the density of the planet is less than on earth, it means that there can be more water than rocks and iron. And if the planet’s temperature allows liquid water, you have an oceanic world. But if the planet’s surface temperature is less than 0 ° C, where the water is frozen, we have an icy ocean world and the density of these planets is even lower, says Lynnae Quick, NASA planetologist.

The team began with basic considerations about the mass, volume and distance from the host star and the presence of other worlds to estimate how much internal heat these planets should have. The models suggest that all of these worlds have enough energy to have complex geological features, such as volcanoes or hydrothermal sources at the bottom of the ocean.

Although exoplanets may not look hospitable, they should not be overlooked for the potential existence of life on them.




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