‘Super Earths’ can harbour life longer than our own

November 14th, 2007 - 10:30 am ICT by admin  
Similar to Earth, these planets can stay warm enough for life upto 35 per cent longer than the Earth.

The time period for the longevity of such planets is upto 11.9 billion, beating the estimated 8.8 billion years for Earth.

The reason for ‘Super-Earths’ staying hot for longer than planets like ours are based on a number of factors that make a planet habitable. They mainly include volcanism and the atmosphere and the size of the star tat the planet orbits.

Another reason for such planets staying warm for a longer duration than Earth is the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Super-Earths, which are up to 10 times the mass of Earth, stay hot for longer than planets like ours, meaning volcanism keeps the atmosphere topped up with carbon dioxide,” New Scientist magazine quotes Christine Bounam from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany as saying. “This helps warm the planet and supports photosynthetic life,” he added.

Astronomers had recently discovered a similar planet circling 55 Cancri, a star beyond our solar system.

The new planet may be similar to Saturn in its composition and appearance. Its location places the planet in the “habitable zone,” a band around the star where the temperature would permit liquid water to pool on solid surfaces.

All these facts make the newly discovered planet suitable to be included in the category of ‘Super-Earths’.

“It is amazing to see our ability to detect extrasolar planets growing,” said Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “We are finding solar systems with a richness of planets and a variety of planetary types comparable to our own,” he added.

“This work marks an exciting next step in the search for worlds like our own,” said Michael Briley, an astronomer at the National Science Foundation. (ANI)

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