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Rogue planets could potentially support life

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Medium of the Damned
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« on: May 31, 2015, 04:05:02 am »

Rogue planets could potentially support life
Posted on Monday, 13 April, 2015

Could life develop on a planet that has no sun ? Image Credit: PHL/UPR Arecibo/NASA
Wandering planets that aren't part of a solar system might still be capable of supporting life.
To date most of the effort towards hunting down extrasolar planets has been focused on locating distant worlds situated in orbit around other stars, but out in the cold depths of interstellar space there actually exists another predominantly overlooked type of planet that does not belong to any one solar system.

These so-called 'rogue' planets might seem like cold and dead worlds but now astrophysicists have been investigating the possibility that they may be able to support life.

The key lies in the potential for a planet's interior heat to sustain an ocean of liquid water beneath a layer of surface ice, similar to what we see on Europa and Enceladus.

"A layer of ice on a planet's surface can act as a strong insulator, locking in a planet's heat," said astrophysicist Sean Raymond from the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux in France.

"If the ice layer is thick enough, then a planet can maintain an ocean of liquid water beneath the ice."

It is also possible that a thick hydrogen atmosphere could help to create potentially habitable conditions on a planet's surface by preventing its internal heat from escaping.

So far aound 50 of these rogue worlds have been discovered by scientists however they have proven much harder to find than conventional exoplanets as they tend to reflect very little light.

Whether we will find one with the potential to support life however remains to be seen.
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