Oct 20, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Volcanoes Make It Easier To Locate Life In Universe

Mar 01, 2017 05:34 AM EST


It has been quite some time that the astronomers have been finding life on exoplanets. Now, the search might be made easier owing to the finding of hydrogen pouring from volcanic resources on exoplanets.

According to the Cornell University, planets remotely located from stars tend to freeze over time. It is tough to find life on such a planet only by using a telescope. The astronomers claim that if the surface of such an exoplanet is kept warm enough due to volcanic hydrogen and atmospheric warming, it is possible to find detectable signatures of life on the surface. The combination of greenhouse warming effect from hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide on these exoplanets, distant stars can generate 30-60 percent of habitable zones.

The idea of hydrogen warming a planet's surface is not new, but it only lasts on an exoplanet for a few million years. The researchers say if volcanic eruptions are regular on these exoplanets, then it becomes suitable for the sustenance of life. Hydrogen, being a very light gas, also "puffs up" the atmosphere of the exoplanets, which the researchers feel will be helpful in detecting signs of life. They claim that it increases the signal which makes it easier to spot the composition of the atmosphere as compared to planets without hydrogen.

According to India Today, in earth's solar system, the habitable zone extends to 1.67 times the earth-sun distance, beyond the orbit of Mars. The volcanically sourced hydrogen on exoplanets helps the solar system habitable zone extend up to 2.4 times the earth-sun distance, almost to the limit where the asteroid belt is located between Mars and Jupiter.

The said research has put many exoplanets back into contention that was previously thought by the scientists to be too cold to support life on their surface. The target list of habitable exoplanets has increased dramatically, claim the researchers, with the discovery of detectable hydrogen gas on their surface.

The research was funded by the Simons Foundation and Cornell Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. The results of the research have been published under the name "A Volcanic Hydrogen Habitable Zone" in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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