Life On Other Planets Could Be Far More Widespread, Study Finds

Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Earth & Space, Sci-Tech with 2 Comments

Phys | Jan 9th 2014

life planet outEarth-sized planets can support life at least ten times further away from stars than previously thought, according to academics at the University of Aberdeen.

A new paper published in Planetary and Space Science claims cold rocky planets previously considered uninhabitable may actually be able to support life beneath the surface.


The team, which included academics from the University of St Andrews, challenge the traditional ‘habitable zone’ – i.e. the area of space around a star, or sun, which can support life – by taking into consideration life living deep below the ground.

“The traditional habitable zone is also known as the Goldilocks zone,” explains PhD student Sean McMahon. “A planet needs to be not too close to its sun but also not too far away for liquid water to persist, rather than boiling or freezing, on the surface.

“But that theory fails to take into account life that can exist beneath a planet’s surface. 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.”

The team created a computer model that estimates the temperature below the surface of a planet of a given size, at a given distance from its star.

“The deepest known life on Earth is 5.3 km below the surface, but there may well be life even 10 km deep in places on Earth that haven’t yet been drilled.


“Using our computer model we discovered that the habitable zone for an Earth-like planet orbiting a sun-like star is about three times bigger if we include the top five kilometres below the planet surface.

“The model shows that liquid water, and as such life, could survive 5km below the Earth’s surface even if the Earth was three times further away from the sun than it is just now.

“If we go deeper, and consider the top 10 km below the Earth’s surface, then the habitable zone for an Earth-like planet is 14 times wider.”

The current habitable zone for our solar system extends out as far as Mars, but this re-drawn habitable zone would see the zone extend out further than Jupiter and Saturn. The findings also suggest that many of the so-called “rogue” planets drifting around in complete darkness could actually be habitable.

“Rocky planets a few times larger than the Earth could support liquid water at about 5 km below the surface even in interstellar space (i.e. very far away from a star), even if they have no atmosphere because the larger the planet, the more heat they generate internally.

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  1. fletxallibre@hotmail.es' editor-b says:

    Then, perhaps, is there fossils or life elsewhere? But, isn’t the emergence and maintenance of life a process of radical contingency? That is, is a unique and unrepeatable past totally necessary? Or does life emerge through space like mushrooms when some conditions are present? So, how many conditions are necessary: three, four, trillions, infinite? Only one, water or any sort of God? Is God the word that means infinite conditions, absolute necessity? Anyway, how did the life that emerge in a given conditions resist when switching to a different moment? How does life resist time itself, the effects of entropy? But, is it possible for human beings to recognise a simpler life than their own brain only? On the other hand, beyond likeness, is it possible to recognise a complex life than their brain, is this the extra-terrestrial life that some people are searching unsuccessfully? However, is there an origin of life or would it be as finding a cut in the material history of the universe, an infinite void that human language patches now? Along these lines, there is a different book, a short preview in http://goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms.

  2. fletxallibre@hotmail.es' editor-b says:

    Then, perhaps, is there fossils or life elsewhere? But, isn’t the emergence and maintenance of life a process of radical contingency? That is, is a unique and unrepeatable past totally necessary? Or does life emerge through space like mushrooms when some conditions are present? So, how many conditions are necessary: three, four, trillions, infinite? Only one, water or any sort of God? Is God the word that means infinite conditions, absolute necessity? Anyway, how did the life that emerge in a given conditions resist when switching to a different moment? How does life resist time itself, the effects of entropy? But, is it possible for human beings to recognise a simpler life than their own brain only? On the other hand, beyond likeness, is it possible to recognise a complex life than their brain, is this the extra-terrestrial life that some people are searching unsuccessfully? However, is there an origin of life or would it be as finding a cut in the material history of the universe, an infinite void that human language patches now? Along these lines, there is a different book, a short preview in goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms.

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