September 19, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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There can be life on large hot planets covered in the ocean

LONDON, August 27 (TASR) – University of Cambridge astronomers have identified a new type of potentially habitable exoplanet – the hikani planet. It can be up to 2.6 times larger than Earth, covered by oceans, and temperatures of a hydrogen-rich atmosphere can reach 200 degrees Celsius. This was stated in a study published Wednesday in the Astrophysical Journal.

Scientists add that if they conduct a more detailed study of these planets, they can discover whether there are traces of life on them in two or three years. These planets are more numerous and easier to observe than Earth-like planets.

Until now, in their search for life in space, scientists have mostly focused on planets that were similar in size, mass, temperature, and composition of Earth’s atmosphere.

However, Cambridge experts believe that despite the high temperatures on these exoplanets, life similar to that found in the early stages of Earth could appear in the great oceans. However, according to head of research, Niko Madhusudan, they cannot determine the exact form of possible life. “At the very least, we can detect microbiological traces of life,” he added.

Another promising feature of these planets is that they have a larger habitable area than Earth. The habitable zone is located at a certain distance from the stars, which allows the presence of water in the liquid state.

The sign of life on the planet could be the presence of oxygen, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone, or also biomarkers including methyl chloride and dimethyl sulfide.

Astronomers suggest that some of these planets may have a specific rotation. This means that the duration of one revolution around a star is the same as the duration of one revolution around its axis. Thus the planet rotates towards the star in the same hemisphere from which it receives daylight, while the other side is constantly in shadow. The most famous object with a specific rotation is the Moon.

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In this case, the Hykan planets can only be inhabited by one.

Scientists have identified several of these exoplanets, and they want to conduct more detailed research with the James Webb Space Telescope later this year.