Icy planets can also sustain life on the surface according to a new study

Even at a new study on frozen rock type planets corroborates the hypothesis that extraterrestrial life may exist on these worlds. However, new research, which appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research, does not focus on the areas below the superficial ice layer, like many other pieces of research, but on the surface.

It is believed, in fact, that many icy worlds can boast an ocean that lies beneath a shallow icy layer, an ocean where water can remain liquid thanks to complex gravitational movements that “stretch” the planet producing heat. In this new study, Adiv Paradise, physicist and astronomer at the University of Toronto, challenges this assumption by launching the idea that extraterrestrial life could also live above the frozen layer of the surface.

According to the results achieved by the astronomer, the classic “snowball” planets can boast near their equators sustainable temperatures that could allow life to be born to thrive. The idea also stems from what happened on Earth when it went through its “snowball” episodes: life continued to exist. However, life in these times on Earth was concentrated in the oceans. The scientist did not lose heart and performed computer calculations to simulate various conditions on frozen planets, calculating various factors such as the amount of starlight and the configuration of the continents as well as the presence of carbon dioxide.

The latter assumes a very important role: when its level drops too much the planets become balls of ice. However, according to the results achieved by computer simulations, some snowball planets continue to lose carbon dioxide after they have frozen. This means that there may be regions on these planets, presumably near the equators, with non-frozen soils, areas where water can continue to remain liquid.

Another interesting result achieved by researchers with these simulations lies in the discovery that Earth-like planets that reach the “snowball” state can remain frozen indefinitely thanks to complex atmospheric interactions that keep the level of carbon dioxide low.

Katherine Turner

I am a Psychology major and have held a long career in journalism, having worked as an editor for a number of publications in Delaware including Beach Paper and Middletown Transcript. I am a volunteer contributor to Geostep News and am responsible for proofreading, editing, writing stories and also helping out with WordPress issues from time to time.

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