Earth Is Not The Best Place To Live, Scientists Say
In news which may not necessarily surprise those of us living through 2020, new research has found that Earth might not be the best planet in the universe to live on.
Scientists have discovered 24 ‘superhabitable’ planets, all which offer more hospitable conditions for life than our own home planet. These planets were found to boast factors such as a greater surface area, more warmth and potential wetness.
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as hoping on a spaceship and upping sticks to a new planet. Each of the worlds were found to be some 100 light years away, meaning it would be extremely difficult to observe them up close.
In a recent study, published in Astrobiology, researchers identified a range of possible criteria for superhabitable planets, examining the 4,500 known planets beyond our solar system to try and identify those that could have the important criteria.
Scientists looked for worlds that were approximately 10% larger than Earth, with this greater mass ensuring they kept their interior heating for longer, as well as allowing for stronger gravity that would help the planet keep hold of its atmosphere for a greater length of time.
Superhabitable planets were also found to have slightly more water than on Earth, especially if this was kept as moisture. Slightly warmer conditions were also found to make a planet more habitable, with scientists noting the ideal temperature to be around 5°C warmer than Earth.
Washington State University scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, who led the study, said:
With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets.
We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.
Some of these planets were even said to have better stars than our sun. Researchers believe that life might well thrive more on planets that circle around stars which change more slowly, and with greater longevity, than our sun.
Researchers looked for planets which had ‘K dwarf stars’, which are colder, smaller and brighter than our sun, with a lifespan of up to 70 billion years.
This lengthy lifespan means the planets that circle them will have much more time to develop advanced life. Our own sun, which is a ‘G star’, has a relatively brief lifespan, and was almost half the age it is now before any forms of complex life emerged.
Planets with the greatest chance of fostering diversity of life will reportedly show strong amounts of ocean circulation, with factors such as slower rotation, higher atmospheric density and continents all strengthening the amount of ocean circulation.
It’s sometimes difficult to convey this principle of superhabitable planets because we think we have the best planet.
We have a great number of complex and diverse lifeforms, and many that can survive in extreme environments. It is good to have adaptable life, but that doesn’t mean that we have the best of everything.
None of the 24 examined planets had all of the ideal criteria. However, one of them does demonstrate four of those criteria, making it theoretically more accommodating to life than Earth. This also means it is more likely to be inhabited.
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