Massive volcanic eruptions on exoplanets can narrow down hunt for alien life
(3 years ago)
Washington, June 09 : A new study has suggested that planets with volcanic activity are more likely to yield results when searching for signs of life than planets without internal heat.
The findings could aid the process of choosing worlds to study for possible life, and even one day help determine not only that a world is habitable, but in fact inhabited.
Volcanism is a key element in planetary habitability. That's because volcanic outgassing helps a planet maintain moderate, life-inviting temperatures, regulating the atmosphere by cycling gases such as carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the mantle.
Plate tectonics is considered an aid to the origin of life because it allows for the recycling of materials from the atmosphere to the planetary interior. Some scientists have even proposed that life on Earth began at sites created by tectonic plates.
The work might also someday help astronomers infer that a planet not only might have life, but actually does. Misra explained that while oxygen is thought an indicator of life, it's also possible for oxygen to be produced abiotically, or by something other than biology.
The study is published in the journal Astrobiology.