december 4, 2022


Groenhuis is de toonaangevende aanbieder van kwalitatief Nederlands nieuws in het Engels voor een internationaal publiek.

Aardachtige exoplaneten komen misschien vaker voor dan eerder werd gedacht

Aardachtige exoplaneten komen misschien vaker voor dan eerder werd gedacht

Een artistieke impressie van het gesmolten oppervlak van een jonge planeet die in wisselwerking staat met zijn atmosfeer om waterdamp te vormen. Krediet: Tadahiro Kimura

Een dag op het strand is een leven lang op andere planeten.

Volgens nieuwe simulaties kunnen perfect aardachtige exoplaneten met oceanen en continenten, evenals stranden langs hun grenzen, vaker voorkomen rond rode dwergen dan eerder werd gedacht. Dit geeft aan dat tegen het einde van het huidige en toekomstige decennium[{” attribute=””>exoplanet survey missions can expect to discover several Earth analogs for further investigation.

The range of orbits around a star where the temperature would be suitable for an exoplanet to have liquid water on its surface is referred to as the “habitable zone.” This does not imply that there is life or even water on the planet. In reality, life on the majority of exoplanets in the habitable zone would not be “a day at the beach.”

On Earth, both the oceans and continents play critical roles in the geochemical carbon cycle, which helps to sustain a temperate climate with liquid water and life. So, in order to search for potentially habitable Earth-like planets, we need “a day at the beach,” where land and sea can coexist.

Previous research has cautioned that such beach-friendly worlds may be extremely rare, even in the habitable zones around the most common types of stars (namely red dwarfs). This is due to a significant difference in the water content of rocky materials found in the inner and outer parts of a protoplanetary disk where planets form, resulting in the creation of planets with either too much or too little water in most situations.

But new numerical simulations conducted by Tadahiro Kimura from the University of Tokyo and Masahiro Ikoma from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan provide a sunnier view. By taking into consideration water produced from interactions between the still-molten surface of a young planet and its primordial atmosphere, the team found that a wide range in final water content is expected.

And within that range, several percent of roughly-Earth-sized planets in habitable zones should have appropriate amounts of water for a temperate climate. This is a high enough percentage that ongoing and future exoplanet survey missions like TESS and PLATO can expect to find multiple examples of truly Earth-like exoplanets with beaches in the 2020s.

Reference: “Predicted diversity in water content of terrestrial exoplanets orbiting M dwarfs” by Tadahiro Kimura and Masahiro Ikoma, 29 September 2022, Nature Astronomy.
DOI: 10.1038/s41550-022-01781-1

The study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. 

READ  Het eerste privé-astronautenteam dat met een SpaceX-vlucht naar het internationale ruimtestation gaat | Leegte