In a study published in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers named the new type of exoplanet bright, hot ocean-covered, hydrogen-rich planets, which they believe are more and more observable than Earth-like planets.
Exoplanets are planets orbiting extraterrestrial stars outside the solar system. In search of extraterrestrial life, astronomers search for planets that are similar in size and mass and similar in temperature and composition of our planet’s atmosphere.
“The Hycean planets open up an entirely new path in the search for extraterrestrial life,” Niko Madhusudan, Head of Research, quoted in a statement on the university’s website.
Many of the Hague candidate planets that the researchers have identified have atmospheres that are larger and warmer than Earth, but have properties that allow for large oceans essential for microbial life, similar to those found in the most extreme aquatic environments on Earth.
On these planets, it is possible to have a much wider habitable zone, called the Goldilock zone, than on other planets such as Earth.
Since the discovery of the first exoplanet about 30 years ago, thousands of exoplanets have been discovered. The vast majority of these planets lie between the size of Earth and Neptune and are often called super-Earths or mini-Neptunes, and they are mostly rocky or icy giants with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, or between the two.
Most minor Neptunes are 1.6 times larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune, but they are too big to have a rocky, Earth-like interior. Previous research has shown that the temperature and pressure on these planets under their hydrogen-rich atmosphere are too high for life to form.
Examining the K2-18b mini Neptune, Madhusudhan’s research team found that these balls can survive under certain conditions. This has led to the study of the broad properties of planets and stars under the conditions in which life exists.
Hayesen planets have been found to be 2.6 times larger than Earth, with atmospheric temperatures of up to 200°C, but similar ocean existence conditions to promote microbial life in Earth’s oceans. Among these planets, there may also be those in which living conditions are only possible on the constant night side and there may be cold Hessian worlds that receive little radiation from their day.
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