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Super Earths could not sustain life

Rocky planets larger than Earth could not sustain life because their thick, crushing hydrogen atmospheres would be deadly.

Research led by Dr Helmut Lammer, from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, used computer modelling to test the gaseous envelopes of different sized planets. Planets that were too small did not have enough gravity to keep in their atmospheres, whereas planets that were too large had atmospheres that were crushingly thick.

The ideal size was a planet between half and 1.5 times the mass of the Earth, with a similar density.

The findings have dashed the hope of finding habitable super Earths, planets larger than ours but smaller than Neptune.

Read more at Austrian Academy of Sciences

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2 Comments sorted by

  1. Ulises

    logged in via Twitter

    Then, isn't there fossils or life expressions elsewhere? Is the emergence and maintenance of life a process of radical contingency? That is, is a unique and unrepeatable past totally necessary? Or does life emerge through space like mushrooms when some conditions are present? So, how many conditions are necessary: three, four, trillions, infinite? Only one, water or any sort of God? Is God the word that means infinite conditions, absolute necessity? Anyway, how did the life that emerge in a given…

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    1. Daniel Verberne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ulises

      Hi Ulises,

      I'm not sure I completely understand your comment, but I definitely agree that there is a huge amount of unknown parameters about life.

      You raise probably the biggest question of them all - is the emergence of life from non-living materials a once-in-eternity fluke, never to be repeated or a "Cosmic imperative" as scientists such as the late Carl Sagan had advocated? We don't know the answer to that big question, but surely if we find life elsewhere in our solar system that has…

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