Volcanic Hydrogen Improves Chances Of Finding Habitable Exoplanets

Posted: Feb 28 2017, 8:01am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Volcanic Hydrogen Improves Chances of Finding Habitable Exoplanets

Exoplanets become more explorable through hydrogen spurs

Now it would be easier to explore exoplanets, because astronomers say that volcanic sources on planets can help detect life in space. The announcement was made by astronomers from Cornell University.

It’s difficult to explore life on icy planets, as any life would have disappeared under icy layers. But, volcanoes burn the icy surface revealing the surfaces below the deep layers of ice. Volcanoes also make the surface warm that is good for life, said lead author Ramses Ramirez, research associate at Cornell's Carl Sagan Institute.

Due to greenhouse effect of hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide on planets, the stars located at distance could 30 to 60 percent of their habitable zone. Now scientists would find warm surface on planets instead of ice due to greenhouse effects and volcanoes, said Lisa Kaltenegger, Cornell professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute.

Though,it’s not a new thing that hydrogen can warm planets, but hydrogen can’t survive for more than few million years on planets like earth. Intense volcanoes can give a nice warming effect to the planet surface. Astronomers also suggested that, there is a possibility of life on the planets which are warmed by volcanoes.

Now astronomers can detect exoplanets through telescope by adding hydrogen to exoplanets’ atmosphere. Exoplanets with hydrogen are easier to explore than the planets without hydrogen, said Ramirez.

The habitable zone in our earth can extend to 1.67 times the earth sun distance, but it can reach to 2.4 times between Mars and Jupiter, if there is hydrogen due to volcanic sources.

Scientists will also detect methane through next-generation James Webb Space Telescope that will be launched in 2018, or European Extremely Large Telescope, first light in 2024.

With the new discovery by Ramirez and Kaltenegger, scientists would now be able to explore the planets easily.

The research titled "A Volcanic Hydrogen Habitable Zone" is published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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