Liquid Prerequisite for Life Could Exist on Planets Unlike Earth, New Study Claims

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Liquid Prerequisite for Life Could Exist on Planets Unlike Earth, New Study Claims
Liquid Prerequisite for Life Could Exist on Planets Unlike Earth, New Study Claims

Africa-Press – Eritrea. The lead author of the new research even suggested that, in certain conditions, radiation from a star similar to our Sun “is not even necessary for conditions to prevail at the surface that allow the existence of water”.

A team of researchers from the University of Zurich, the University of Berne and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS postulates that liquid water, an essential ingredient in the development of life, may be found on planets quite different from our own.

In their study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the team argues that a primordial atmosphere – akin to the one Earth had in its infancy, comprised primarily of hydrogen and helium – may produce conditions necessary for liquid water.

But whereas Earth ended up eventually losing its primordial atmosphere, it appears that planets that are more massive than ours can retain such an atmosphere indefinitely.

Having simulated the development of numerous planets over billions of years, the researchers determined that “in many cases, primordial atmospheres were lost because of intense radiation from stars, especially on planets that are close to their star,” as Marit Mol Lous, PhD student and lead author of the study, put it.

Christoph Mordasini, professor of theoretical astrophysics at the University of Bern and another author of the study, pointed out that their findings “could greatly expand the horizon for the search for alien life forms”, as the availability of liquid water is “a likely prerequisite for life”.

But although the researchers’ findings may even suggest that life “could even emerge on so-called free-floating planets, that do not orbit around a star,” Mordasini advised that the results of their work should be taken “with a grain of salt”. The researcher did note, however, that their study shows that “our Earth-centered idea of a life-friendly planet might be too narrow”.

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