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Space & Astronomy

Potentially habitable worlds may be more common than we thought

By T.K. Randall
July 11, 2023 · Comment icon 16 comments
An extrasolar planet orbiting a distant star.
Water could exist under the surface of worlds orbiting red dwarf stars. Image Credit: NASA / Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)
Scientists now believe that there are 100 times as many habitable worlds in our galaxy than previously thought.
For years, the hunt for habitable extrasolar worlds has been synonymous with the hunt for water - a substance that is inexorably connected with the development and survival of life as we know it.

Now it seems as though worlds with subsurface oceans (like those found on Europa and Enceladus) may be significantly more commonplace than scientists had previously believed.

The key, according to new results presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Lyon, France this week, is that such worlds are now thought to exist around red dwarf stars - small, cool stars that are particularly abundant throughout the galaxy.
This is made possible by geothermal heat melting the ice on rocky terrestrial planets orbiting them.

"Most Earth-like exoplanets that we have found today orbit around M dwarfs," planetary scientist Lujendra Ojha told Motherboard.

"Given that basal melting was something that likely happened and, depending on who you talk to, could have been one of the main ways of generating liquid water on our solar system's planets billions of years ago, we wanted to ascertain what would be required for basal melting, and if this could happen on other planetary bodies."

If these findings are correct, then it could mean that there are far more potentially habitable environments out there than anyone thought possible.

Source: Vice.com | Comments (16)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Alchopwn 10 months ago
Err... Our sun won't do that for billions of years. Billions.  Not centuries.  Not millennia.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Jon the frog 10 months ago
And? How mutch time we have left to get out of here before civilization and our species collapse on earth ? The window of getting out of earth is quite small, we miss it, it's over and I don't think that we will leave something after us that will be able to climb out the ladder and getting the hell out of here before it's too late. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Jon the frog 10 months ago
Yeah, it's mostly what people say and they wait until it's too late... mostly 1 billion before anything is sanitize. Yeah it's quite long for our puny existence but the window of a technological advanced species is narrow and life on earth will not have a second chance. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/it-s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-nasa-researchers-determine-when-the-sun-will-destroy-earth/ar-AA19JOFG#:~:text=In plain English%2C in just,models more than 400%2C000 times.
Comment icon #10 Posted by fred_mc 9 months ago
Subsurface oceans, yes, we have such worlds even in our solar system, like Europa. I guess life could develop there but I hardly think intelligent life could develop under water.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Alchopwn 9 months ago
We could fix global warming tomorrow. Ask me how in a private message if you are seriously interested.  We have the technology but not the political will, for reasons that elude me.  As to species and civilization collapse, I find that highly unlikely.  I think we will find a way.  There was a time when much of our industry ran on whale blubber, and cars were seen as reducing urban pollution due to all the horse dung clogging every street and gutter.  Before that people literally chucked their sewerage out the upper window for centuries.  Every day in every way we are getting better and ... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Cho Jinn 9 months ago
Many ways, surely.  Every way, ehhhh.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Abramelin 9 months ago
Cephalopods are an example it can.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Alchopwn 9 months ago
Nope it is utterly do-able with one easy fix that nobody is doing.
Comment icon #15 Posted by fred_mc 9 months ago
Yes, but how advanced can life under water become, can it develop an advanced space-faring civilization, even though the surface is hostile, like on Europa? I've read somewhere that fire is crucial in creating an advanced civilization, and you can't have that under water.
Comment icon #16 Posted by joc 9 months ago
I would think the more sophisticated propulsion devices under water became the more advanced an underworld society would be.  Fire under water?  Why would a civilization not 'experiencing' the atmosphere of 'fire necessity' need fire?


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