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Extraterrestrial

'Super Earth' aliens may be trapped by gravity

By T.K. Randall
April 23, 2018 · Comment icon 13 comments

A planet with a large mass will also have a large gravitational pull. Image Credit: NASA
On planets more massive than the Earth, launching things in to space will be a lot more challenging.
So far, the hunt for extraterrestrial life on extrasolar worlds has focused primarily on seeking out Earth-sized terrestrial planets located within their parent star's habitable zone.

But what of very large planets - the so-called 'Super Earths' - that also happen to lie within this zone ?

Such massive planets could in theory also support life, especially if evolution had equipped the inhabitants with the ability to withstand the extreme gravitational pull of such a world.

When it comes to spaceflight however, such a civilization may be at a distinct disadvantage. In extreme cases, it may require up to ten times as much thrust to place something in to orbit.
To carry enough fuel to launch the equivalent of an Apollo Moon mission, for instance, a rocket would need to have a mass of up to 440,000 tons - that's the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

"On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive," said study author Michael Hippke of the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany.

"Such civilizations would not have satellite TV, a moon mission or a Hubble Space Telescope."

It is easy to imagine how, in such a scenario, a civilization may never even make it in to space at all.

Source: Space.com | Comments (13)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Gaden 6 years ago
 How do you suppose they would develop ore smelting?  
Comment icon #5 Posted by Alien Origins 6 years ago
Please remember this is only a theory but its still hard to swallow: https://www.yahoo.com/news/aliens-could-trapped-super-earth-144451116.html
Comment icon #6 Posted by godnodog 6 years ago
According to preliminary measurements Jupiter probably has a rocky core, current planet formation theory also points to Jupiter having a rocky core
Comment icon #7 Posted by Orphalesion 6 years ago
  They could maybe still develop to a neolithic level, perhaps. But yeah, I have problems picturing them becoming space-faring as well, at least without outside help.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Not A Rockstar 6 years ago
I guess mother of pearl really won't cut re-entry heat LOL
Comment icon #9 Posted by Orphalesion 6 years ago
But at least it would be a very pretty spaceship.....until it burns up in the atmosphere.
Comment icon #10 Posted by kartikg 6 years ago
what if they understand that they are in a huge gravity well and instead of chemical rockets they use nuclear explosion to launch in space 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Tom the Photon 6 years ago
I acknowledge your point, Waspie, and it strongly supports my view that the number of "intelligent alien species trapped on supermassive planets by their enormous gravity" is likely to be a very, very small fraction of the total.  Articles like this are interesting but add little more than idle speculation to the important science carried out by SETI and others.  The importance of contacting advanced intelligences cannot be overstated.  Assuming alien species are benign (and I believe there is little reason for them to be otherwise) and they share advanced knowledge and technology with us, ... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Calibeliever 6 years ago
I'm just musing about the fact that they are making assumptions based on our current technology that has only (effectively) advanced to the point of using fire as a means of propulsion. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by Dejarma 6 years ago
yep exactly-- i find it fascinating how many just don't look at it in this way


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