SuperEarths with Exposed Continents Boost Chances for Extraterrestrial Life
Massive Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth planets orbiting distant stars have exposed continents rather than just water-covered surfaces.
Super-Earths likely have more stable climates as compared to water-worlds, and therefore larger habitable zones where alien life could thrive. In the new study, researchers used the Earth as a starting point for modeling how super-Earths might store their water on the surface and deep underground within the mantle. The work is detailed in a preprint paper titled “Water Cycling Between Ocean and Mantle: Super-Earths Need Not Be Waterworlds” that was published in the January issue of The Astrophysical Journal.