Some alien worlds may have “too much water” for life

Some alien worlds may have “too much water” for life

As we know, liquid water is necessary for the appearance of life. But too much of it can stop the evolution of complex life forms in their directions.

Like everything in life, too much good can have bad consequences. And following the logic, it seems to apply to alien life.

With the discovery in August of Proxima Centauri b (or simply Proxima b), countless assumptions have arisen about what a small planet will look like in size from close range. This issue has covered the media space. Is the planet resembling Earth, with its mountains, oceans, lush green continents, and atmospheres in such correct proportions as to support extraterrestrial life? Or, in fact, is it a dry, barren hangout, constantly irradiated by a star? Both of these options have the right to life.

Since Proxima B was discovered only because of its gravitational influence on Centauri Proxima (the orbit of a small exoplanet causes a tiny stellar oscillation), we only know its mass and orbital period. But these two characteristics are fascinating. Not only is Proxima b mass close to Earth mass, it also rotates within the habitable zone of its star (an area around a star whose temperature is ideal for the existence of liquid water on the surface of the planet). Judging by the Earth, if there is water, then there is life. So, if there is water on the surface of Proxima b, then it can be in a liquid state. It is not surprising that assumptions and hopes have appeared that the exoplanet can be the carrier of life. But we still have zero evidence that there is water. So her life potential is purely speculative.

Astrophysicists from the University of Bern conducted a new study that solved this problem by creating planetary models of evolution. They found that red dwarfs can predominantly have small rocky worlds. But in addition, it is likely that these worlds contain large amounts of water.

“Our models have managed to recreate worlds that, in terms of mass and period, resemble the observed object,” said Yann Alibert from the Center for Space and habitability (CSH) at Barn University in a statement. “We found that the planets orbiting in orbits around a star are small in size. As a rule, they range from 0.5 to 1.5 Earth radii with a maximum of about 1.0 Earth radius. Future discoveries will show how correct our conclusions were. ”

The study, accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, suggests that these little alien worlds also developed with a huge amount of water. For 90% of the simulated exoplanets their total mass consisted of more than 10% water. Considering that in the case of the Earth it is only 0.02%, the modeled red dwarf is a real oceanic planet. At first glance, this situation seems like an incredible opportunity for advanced life forms that could develop on planets in red dwarf systems. After all, red dwarfs are among the most ancient stars in our galaxy, and their predicted lifespan is longer than the age of the Universe (14 billion years). Life on Earth was born only 3 billion years ago, when our Sun was still young. If you compare, then life on the red dwarf worlds can develop on epic time scales.

And now it seems that in accordance with the established theories of the formation of planets, these ancient worlds could have an abundant supply of water. The mind is incomprehensible.

True, a huge supply of water on small exoplanets orbiting around red dwarfs does not guarantee a positive result. “While liquid water is generally considered a necessary component, too much of it can be harmful,” said study co-author Willy Benz.

In previous studies, found worlds with a predominance of water had unstable climatic conditions, working against evolution. It may have stumped their potential for producing complex life forms. If everything is so, then super-advanced extraterrestrial civilizations have too few chances for existence. Add to this the fact that any habitable zone around red dwarfs will be located too close to their stars, so that they are constantly saturated with a huge dose of radiation. Perhaps the only possible life in these worlds is the basic aquatic life, which must exist deep under the protective ice layers. “Whether there is life or not, exploring planets orbiting few massive stars will most likely bring interesting new results, improving our knowledge of planet formation, evolution, and potential habitability,” said Benz.

We have a lot of ideas about what shape Proxima b will take, because red dwarfs are the most common type of stars in our galaxy. And if they prefer to form small rocky worlds with a mass similar to Earth, then according to statistics there are millions of “Earth 2.0” in the galaxy with the necessary amount of water.

But is there life on these worlds? At the moment we can only guess.

Comments (0)