Scientists find two dozen ‘superhabitable’ exoplanets located over 100 light-years away

Katie Ramirez
October 8, 2020

A team of scientists belonging to the KMTN (Korean Microlensing Telescope Network) collaboration and the OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment) collaboration had been analyzing a new rogue planet that's about the same mass as Earth.

After applying these requirements to the 4,500+ known exoplanets discovered to date, Schulze-Makuch and colleagues found 24 top contenders for superhabitable planets.

They also looked for planets that are larger, warmer and wetter than Earth, in terms of moisture, clouds, and atmospheric humidity.

According to researchers, there are two dozen planets in solar systems outside, which may harbor conditions that are more suitable to sustain life than earth. The study was published in the scientific journal Astrobiology and is free to read here. Earth is almost 4.5 billion years old. At the start of the study, the researchers worked together on criteria that could be used to classify superhabitable planets.

According to scientists, the imminent creation of a new generation of super-powerful space-based telescopes makes the need to find and list potential habitable planets all the more important. The optimal superhabitable planet would have a friend, just like Earth: a large moon at a moderate distance. They also have long lifespans of 20 billion to 70 billion years, allowing orbiting planets to be older and giving Life more time to advance to the complexity now found on Earth. These potential "lands" are located at a distance of more than 100 light years from the Blue Planet, but at the moment it is rather hard to get more information about them due to the lack of the necessary equipment. Scientists know that it takes up to 4 billion years for a complex life to emerge on Earth, that is, it nearly consumes the half-life of the Sun, so a planet orbiting a G-type star can consume its life until it develops complex life even if it has the appropriate conditions.

Habitability means having the suitable conditions that are conducive to bear life, although they may not really have life. Scientists searche for systems with G stars, which are like the Sun, as well as systems with K dwarf star, which are less luminous, less massive, and cooler than the Sun.

Also, planets should not be so old to be habitable, so they should lie between 5 to 8 billion years old.

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"We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life".

"It's sometimes hard to convey this principle of superhabitable planets because we think we have the best planet", added Schulze-Makuch, who is also a researcher at the Technical University in Berlin.

So a planet 10% larger than Earth should have more habitable land.

When coupled with water, this extra warmth and moisture could lead to greater biodiversity - a situation that is mirrored here on Earth in tropical rain forests when compared with colder, drier areas. One that is about 1.5 times Earth's mass would be expected to retain its interior heating through radioactive decay longer and would also have a stronger gravity to retain an atmosphere over a longer time period.

None of the 24 candidates meet all of the criteria presented in the study.

Our Moon not only gives us tides - which may have been an important driver of life developing early on in the planet's history - but also "provides stability to Earth's rotation axis".

Mr Schulze-Makuch said the study showed that Earth may not be the best environment for life.

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