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Space & Astronomy

Rogue planets could potentially support life

By T.K. Randall
April 13, 2015 · Comment icon 7 comments

Could life develop on a planet that has no sun ? Image Credit: PHL/UPR Arecibo/NASA
Wandering planets that aren't part of a solar system might still be capable of supporting life.
To date most of the effort towards hunting down extrasolar planets has been focused on locating distant worlds situated in orbit around other stars, but out in the cold depths of interstellar space there actually exists another predominantly overlooked type of planet that does not belong to any one solar system.

These so-called 'rogue' planets might seem like cold and dead worlds but now astrophysicists have been investigating the possibility that they may be able to support life.

The key lies in the potential for a planet's interior heat to sustain an ocean of liquid water beneath a layer of surface ice, similar to what we see on Europa and Enceladus.

"A layer of ice on a planet's surface can act as a strong insulator, locking in a planet's heat," said astrophysicist Sean Raymond from the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux in France.
"If the ice layer is thick enough, then a planet can maintain an ocean of liquid water beneath the ice."

It is also possible that a thick hydrogen atmosphere could help to create potentially habitable conditions on a planet's surface by preventing its internal heat from escaping.

So far aound 50 of these rogue worlds have been discovered by scientists however they have proven much harder to find than conventional exoplanets as they tend to reflect very little light.

Whether we will find one with the potential to support life however remains to be seen.

Source: Mail Online | Comments (7)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Rhino666 9 years ago
Doesn't matter what we see or think we see, we either can't get to it or wouldn't survive it even if we could get there.
Comment icon #2 Posted by paperdyer 9 years ago
IF these rogue planets can support life underground, I just wonder how long? I guess the core would cool slowly, but with a heavy layer of ice on top I would think the world would become uninhabitable. May take millions of years, so I guess it may be a moot point.
Comment icon #3 Posted by DieChecker 9 years ago
I thought I read about this like a year ago? Maybe it was this article? http://abcnews.go.co.../story?id=99236 Maybe if we can find planets between here and the closest star, we could get to those easier then going to that closest star?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Ad hoc 9 years ago
I think I read somewhere recently that extrasolar planets might be the most common kind- more getting thrown out during the cataclysmic stage of solar system formation than stay in.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
I think I read somewhere recently that extrasolar planets might be the most common kind An extrasolar planet is ANY planet not in our solar system. Rouge planets are those not in orbit around a star.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Ad hoc 9 years ago
An extrasolar planet is ANY planet not in our solar system. Rouge planets are those not in orbit around a star. Cheers. Rogue planets was what I meant.
Comment icon #7 Posted by TripGun 9 years ago
I guess our universe has a lot of potential.


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