When searching for planets that could Harbor life outside our Solar system, scientists generally pay great attention to planets like Earth. There is a certain logic, because if our planet was able to support life, that is, the probability of its occurrence and, in such circumstances. But this statement can be wrong. For example, recently a team of astronomers from the University of Toronto demonstrated that life can exist in very extreme conditions. For example, the fully-frozen planets.
As a rule, are small potentially habitable planet, located at a certain distance from its star. This is to ensure that the temperature was not too high for the star “burned” planet, and not too low to the water could remain in liquid form. However, the elongated shape of the orbit and composition of the atmosphere can make such a lifeless planet.
It is believed that these celestial bodies can have potentially habitable zones, located under a thick layer of ice, continuing for thousands of years. However, as it turned out, life could not exist this way. A new study conducted by a group of scientists led Adiv Paradise shows that the ice planet may be habitable land areas above freezing level.
Our home planet, Earth, is in the habitable zone where a planet can theoretically have liquid water and temperature sufficient to maintain life. But distance is not the only factor. If too elliptical orbits of the planets, the planets are tilted on their axis. In these cases, the oceans would freeze right to the equator, creating a snowball effect.
Such icy planet formation due to the presence in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2). As is known, in volcanic activity produced a lot of carbon dioxide. However in parallel with this are the processes of “weathering”, i.e. removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Thus at the moment when these processes balance each other, the planet and stuck in a state of “snowball” freezing “forever”. That is demonstrated in the chart below.
As scientists realized that the frozen planets may have life?
Experts from the University of Toronto decided to see whether frozen planet, the areas that reach temperatures within which potentially may be life. Therefore, using a computer program, they spent several thousands of simulations by adjusting conditions such as orbital parameters, atmospheric composition, the amount received from the nearest energy star, distance from star, the presence of “Islands” of land and so on.
As a result, scientists have discovered that these frozen planets may be quite suitable for life. For example, on the land areas above freezing level or even with the existence of sufficiently large continents, far from frozen oceans temperature can be above 10 degrees Celsius. This is enough for the existence of life and the provision of sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide, further heating the planet and potentially can melt its ice-covered oceans.