Moons of 121 exoplanets ideal place to look for life
The search for life beyond Earth has focused on extrasolar planets, but the moons of these planets may also be a good place to look. In an article accepted for publication at „The Astrophysical Journal”, Scientists at the University of California Riverside and the University of Southern Queensland, have identified more than 100 giant planets, które may have moons potentially capable of supporting life.
Scientists hope their research will help develop new telescopes thatóre will be able to detect these potential moons and look for biosignatures on them – characteristic signs of life in their atmospheres.
Since the launch of the Kepler Space Telescope in 2009, scientists have identified thousands of planets beyond our solar system. The primary goal of the Kepler telescope’s mission was to identify planets in the habitable zones of their stars – That is, in the so-called. ecosphere. This place in the orbit of the wokół stars, where conditions may be conducive to the emergence of life, at least life as we know it. The most significant element of the ecosphere is the presence of liquid water
Rocky planets are a majorównymi goals in search of life, because someóre of them may be geologically and atmospherically similar to Earth. Another place on whichóre worth a look, are gas giants identified during the Kepler telescope mission. Jupiter-like planets in the ecosphere may contain rocky moons, called exoplanets, które could have the conditions to sustain life.
– Currently, there are 175 known moonsóIn circulating wokół eight planets in our solar system. While most of these lunarówok orbitsóSaturn and Jupiter, whichóre located outside the ecosphere, in the case of other systemsów planetary may be quite different – said Stephen Kane professor of planetary astrophysics at the University of California Riverside.
According to scientists, 121 gas giants have been identifiedóin whichóhe orbits of which are in ecospheres. Such planets are less common than rocky planets, but each can have at least a few large, rocky moonsów. Scientists have even been tempted to make the rather risky thesis that exoplanets may provide a favorable environment for life, perhaps even better than Earth’s. And that’s because they receive energy not only from their star, but róalso in the form of radiation reflected off their planet.
– Now that we have created a database of known gas giantów located in the ecosphere of their star, observations will be made of the most interesting of them in search of possible exo-lunarów. Our research can helpóc in the future design of telescopesów so that we can detect these moons, study their properties and look for signs of life – explained Michelle Hill of the University of Southern Queensland.
Sourceódl: University of California Riverside, photo. NASA GSFC/ Jay Friedlander/ Britt Griswold