If a planet contains water, that bears the sign that it may capable of supporting life. Now scientists are saying that there may be massive alien worlds (known as ‘super-Earths’) that look like our planet Earth and some of those super-Earths may contain huge amounts of water hidden beneath the surface.
Super-earths are giant planets that have between one and 10 times the mass of our world. About 40 per cent of all red dwarf stars have a super-Earth orbiting in the habitable zone where liquid water can exist on the surface of the planet. Scientists have made a model (above picture) and suggest that tectonically active super-Earths store most of their water in the mantle – the rocky part that makes up most of the volume and mass of the planet.
Nicolas Cowan, from Northwestern University in Illinois said, “Our model is a shot from the hip, but it’s an important step in advancing how we think about super-Earths. Super-Earths are expected to have deep oceans that will overflow their basins and inundate the entire surface, but we show this logic to be flawed. Terrestrial planets have significant amounts of water in their interior. Super-Earths are likely to have shallow oceans to go along with their shallow ocean basins.”
In their model, the researchers treated the intriguing exoplanets like Earth. The rock of the mantle contains tiny amounts of water, which quickly adds up because the mantle is so large. Because of this, deep water cycle moves water between oceans and the mantle.
Cowan said, “We can put 80 times more water on a super-Earth and still have its surface look like Earth. These massive planets have enormous seafloor pressure, and this force pushes water into the mantle.”
But Academics at the University of Aberdeen and University of St Andrews are not satisfied to this model saying this model “fails to take into account life that can exist beneath a planet’s surface.” But Aberdeen University PhD student Sean McMahon said, “As you get deeper below a planet’s surface, the temperature increases, and once you get down to a temperature where liquid water can exist – life can exist there too”
However, if the model proves to be true, it could mean that our galaxy is home to giant worlds that have a stable climate similar to Earth with potential to harbor life.
Source: Daily Mail