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Planets better suited for life than earth?

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  • Planets better suited for life than earth?

    I'll let the popular press make the pitch for the story


    Source: Planets more hospitable to life than Earth may already have been discovered



    At least two dozen planets outside the solar system might be better for life than Earth.

    These planets are just a little older, a little wetter, a little warmer and a little larger than Earth is, researchers wrote Sept. 18 in the journal Astrobiology. All of these factors could mean that some of these planets are the best places to search for extraterrestrial life.

    "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," University of Washington astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch said in a statement.

    Seeking superhabitable planets

    Astronomers have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, so far. Most of these are not particularly conducive to life. For example, planet KELT-9b is so hot that its atmosphere is constantly melting. The darkest known planet, TrES-2b, has an atmospheric temperature of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius). On the other end of the inhospitable spectrum is GJ 433 d, whose discoverers described it as the coldest Neptune-like planet ever discovered.

    But there are also many planets within their star's habitable zone, or the "just-right" distance conducive to surface temperatures that aren't too hot or too cold for life as we know it to evolve. Schulze-Makuch and his colleagues aimed to identify exoplanets most likely to be "superhabitable," or not only in the habitable zone but also boasting other features that might make them a good place for life to blossom.

    These features included a star of the right size and life span, especially considering that it took complex life 3.5 billion years to evolve on Earth, and 4 billion years for life as advanced as humans to appear. A large size could mean more space for landmass and habitat; a larger planet would also have higher gravity, which would make for a thicker atmosphere, something that could be beneficial for organisms that travel by flight, the researchers wrote. A planet slightly warmer than Earth would be more habitable, given a lack of largely barren polar regions, but that warmer planet would also need to be wetter than Earth so that deserts wouldn't dominate the landmasses. A more habitable planet might thus resemble Earth in the early Carboniferous, about 359 million years ago, when much of the world's landmass had the climate of a tropical rainforest. (Modern-day global warming isn't good for life on Earth both because the change is happening too quickly for many animals to adapt and because of the effects on human infrastructure due to rising sea levels; slightly warmer temperatures, however, aren't inherently bad for life.)

    A better version of Earth might also have a slightly larger moon, or a moon slightly closer to the planet, which would help stabilize its orbit and prevent life-disrupting wobbles, the researchers wrote.

    The researchers came up with a set of parameters to use to meet all these criteria. According to these parameters, the perfect superhabitable planet would be in orbit around a K dwarf star, which is a relatively small star star that’s slightly cooler than our sun (which is considered a yellow dwarf); about 5 billion to 8 billion years old; about 10% larger than Earth; about 9 F (5 C) warmer than Earth, on average; moist with an atmosphere that is 25% to 30% oxygen, with scattered land and water. The perfect planet would also have plate tectonics or a similar geological process in order to recycle minerals and nutrients through the crust and to create diverse habitats and topography, and would have a moon between 1% and 10% of its size orbiting it at a moderate distance.




    Source

    © Copyright Original Source



    [*The article continues at the link above*]

    And the paper in Astrobiology?

    Source: In Search for a Planet Better than Earth: Top Contenders for a Superhabitable World


    Abstract

    The fact that Earth is teeming with life makes it appear odd to ask whether there could be other planets in our galaxy that may be even more suitable for life. Neglecting this possible class of “superhabitable” planets, however, could be considered anthropocentric and geocentric biases. Most important from the perspective of an observer searching for extrasolar life is that such a search might be executed most effectively with a focus on superhabitable planets instead of Earth-like planets. We argue that there could be regions of astrophysical parameter space of star-planet systems that could allow for planets to be even better for life than our Earth. We aim to identify those parameters and their optimal ranges, some of which are astrophysically motivated, whereas others are based on the varying habitability of the natural history of our planet. Some of these conditions are far from being observationally testable on planets outside the solar system. Still, we can distill a short list of 24 top contenders among the >4000 exoplanets known today that could be candidates for a superhabitable planet. In fact, we argue that, with regard to the search for extrasolar life, potentially superhabitable planets may deserve higher priority for follow-up observations than most Earth-like planets.



    Source

    © Copyright Original Source



    [*The entire paper is available at the link above*]

    The statement released by Dirk Schulze‑Makuch, the lead author, summarizes it all: "Some planets may be better for life than Earth"





    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

  • #2
    I posted it here: https://theologyweb.com/campus/forum...n-the-universe

    . . . but it probably deserves a thread of it's own.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

    Comment


    • #3
      Since they can't see anything of the sort, it is all guesswork. The popular view from the science guys seems to have gone from what if to acting as if they already know what these exoplanets are like and pretty much have them teeming with life. This is no better than 100 years ago when scientists were all abuzz about life on Venus and Mars, with Venus being a lush jungle planet because it was so like Earth but a bit closer to the sun so it would have a slightly warmer climate and be full of jungles. And Mars having ancient civilizations complete with canals.

      I just wish they would stop acting like they KNOW what is out there and keep it fact based and say only what they know, not what they guess.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sparko View Post
        I just wish they would stop acting like they KNOW what is out there and keep it fact based and say only what they know, not what they guess.
        I think you're missing a bit of the subtext of what's going on within the scientific community. We're on the verge of having hardware that can image atmospheres of exoplanets within a 30 light year bubble of Earth (James Webb and some of the giant earth-based telescopes that will come online later this decade). But the imaging will require LOTS of telescope time, making it very competitive. We're also going to be designing the generation of instruments after this one.

        What you're seeing is researchers trying to influence the process - making the case for specific candidates to get imaged, trying to make sure the next generation instruments have the capabilities needed to image others. For this purpose, understanding what might be possible is critical, otherwise there'd be nothing for the people running these projects to make any judgements by. And it's hardly the fault of the scientists that the press picks up on this.
        "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
          I think you're missing a bit of the subtext of what's going on within the scientific community. We're on the verge of having hardware that can image atmospheres of exoplanets within a 30 light year bubble of Earth (James Webb and some of the giant earth-based telescopes that will come online later this decade). But the imaging will require LOTS of telescope time, making it very competitive. We're also going to be designing the generation of instruments after this one.

          What you're seeing is researchers trying to influence the process - making the case for specific candidates to get imaged, trying to make sure the next generation instruments have the capabilities needed to image others. For this purpose, understanding what might be possible is critical, otherwise there'd be nothing for the people running these projects to make any judgements by. And it's hardly the fault of the scientists that the press picks up on this.
          I wonder if some of the motivation behind stories like this might be an attempt to garner public support for their project and use that to gain some of that very competitive telescope time.

          I'm always still in trouble again

          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
            I wonder if some of the motivation behind stories like this might be an attempt to garner public support for their project and use that to gain some of that very competitive telescope time.
            I'm not very well plugged in to the astronomy community, but this isn't true in most other areas. I think astronomy just has a number of features that ensure that this sort of thing draws press coverage:
            A general public interest in astronomy.
            A specific public interest in the issue of life outside of Earth.
            And large team collaborations.

            This last factor means that each one of the institutions people are at will often issue its own press release, as will each of the telescopes used, and often umbrella agencies like the ESA will issue one as well. All of that increases the chances of some outlet picking it up, and there are places like Science Daily and PhysOrg that will just publish the press release verbatim as if it were a news article.
            "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
              Since they can't see anything of the sort, it is all guesswork. The popular view from the science guys seems to have gone from what if to acting as if they already know what these exoplanets are like and pretty much have them teeming with life. This is no better than 100 years ago when scientists were all abuzz about life on Venus and Mars, with Venus being a lush jungle planet because it was so like Earth but a bit closer to the sun so it would have a slightly warmer climate and be full of jungles. And Mars having ancient civilizations complete with canals.

              I just wish they would stop acting like they KNOW what is out there and keep it fact based and say only what they know, not what they guess.
              I do not believe that scientist are claiming to KNOW what is out there. You have to give some leeway to the the layman articles as what astronomers have discovered.
              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

              go with the flow the river knows . . .

              Frank

              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

              Comment

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