Researchers have identified 121 giant planets that may have habitable moons


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branfont

We've all heard about the search for life on other planets, but what about looking on other moons?

 

In a paper forthcoming in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Southern Queensland have identified more than 100 giant planets that potentially host moons capable of supporting life. Their work will guide the design of future telescopes that can detect these potential moons and look for tell-tale signs of life, called biosignatures, in their atmospheres.

 

Since the 2009 launch of NASA's Kepler telescope, scientists have identified thousands of planets outside our solar system, which are called exoplanets. A primary goal of the Kepler mission is to identify planets that are in the habitable zones of their stars, meaning it's neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water — and potentially life — to exist.

 

Terrestrial (rocky) planets are prime targets in the quest to find life because some of them might be geologically and atmospherically similar to Earth. Another place to look is the many gas giants identified during the Kepler mission. While not a candidate for life themselves, Jupiter-like planets in the habitable zone may harbor rocky moons, called exomoons, that could sustain life.

 

 

 

 

 

Full article @ Phys.org

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DocM

And even if they're outside the local stars "Goldilocks zone" tidal forces from a largeish planet may warm them to liquid water temps.

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Unobscured Vision

Yes indeed! And we know from Planetary Physics that saltwater oceans can induce weak magnetic fields. Some of these moons, if large and dense enough, could have stronger ones -- and that'll mean some kind of atmosphere.

 

Alternatively, as we've seen on Europa and Enceladus, global ice crusts are effective at protecting oceans; both from high-radiation environments (such as the proximity of Jupiter) to MIP's (micrometeoroid ice particles) in the proximity of Saturn. Should be a lot of very decent places to check out, assuming we could ever get to those places.

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