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If You Really Want To Find Extraterrestrial Life -
Focus On Non-Earth-Like Planets Instead! - Astronomers Say

3 February, 2014

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Follow us: - Astronomers believe that we are looking for aliens in wrong places.

What if our planet is not the most ideal place for life or some alien species are invisible to our naked eye? If we look for a planet supporting "life as we know it" - there may be a problem to find it!

But if we search for a planet that does not have certain specifications to support life, we may have good chances to find one, without human requirements.

Not all alien species depend on water, air and earth-like temperatures to survive.

This idea isn't new. Already ten years ago, a group of astronomers from Ohio State University suggested that we should be seeking habitable planets near stars significantly more massive than the sun.

Hotter, more massive stars have always been considered less likely to harbor life, though not because they would be too hot. Planets could still enjoy temperate climates, just at orbits farther away from the star, according to Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy at the Ohio State University.

"The problem is one of time, not temperature," Gould said. "Hotter stars tend to “burn out” faster - perhaps too fast for life to develop there.!

One of the stars examined in the study is 1.5 times more massive than the sun, and would probably only generate life-sustaining energy for about two billion years.

Given the billions of years required for evolution of life on earth, scientists could question whether life would stand a chance in a shorter-lived solar system.

“We have no idea how evolution would proceed on any planet other than our own,” Gould said. “If we find a planet around a shorter-lived star, we may be able to test what would happen to evolution under those circumstances,” Gould explained.

Recent study conducted by astrophysicist René Heller of McMaster’s Origins Institute shows that our planet may not be the most ideal place for life and scientists need to consider non-Earth-like, so-called “superhabitable” planets.

These planets would probably be two or three times more massive and much less mountainous than Earth. They would probably be older, too.

“The Earth just scrapes the inner edge of the solar system’s habitable zone – the area in which temperatures allow Earth-like planets to have liquid surface water,” says Heller.

“So from this perspective, Earth is only marginally habitable.

Could there be more hospitable environments for life on terrestrial planets?”

In it, they outline some of the characteristics such planets might have. They include many, shallower bodies of water (rather than a few large oceans), a more reliable global “thermostat” that impedes ice ages, and a magnetic shield, to protect the planet from cosmic radiation.

“We propose a shift in focus,” he says. “We want to prioritize future searches for inhabited planets. We’re saying ‘Don’t just focus on the most Earth-like planets if you really want to find life.’”

But is the discussion about which planets to look at even worth having? How likely are we ever to find life on another planet?

“Statistically speaking, I would say it’s very unlikely that there is nothing out there,” says Heller. “For the first time in history, we have the ability – both technical and intellectual – to find and classify potentially inhabited planets. It’s just a matter of how we spend our observation time.”

Heller expects the paper to serve as a launching point for a debate about superhabitability. He says it may take some time for the scientific community to come around to the theory.


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See also:
Aliens Will Look Like Huge Jelly-Fish Floating In The Air: Scientist Says

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