Oceans on ‘super-earths’ may host alien life: study reveals

Science is never boring. The surprises borne out of studying Science never stop surprising the world. Recently NASA’s Kepler space telescope proudly celebrated the fascinating event of discovering 1,000th exoplanet. The continuous search for life amongst other planets thus never ceases.

Now, it is a known fact that to support life, existence of water is very much required. According to a new study, it has been suggested that these “super-Earths” believed to be around 5 times larger than Earth may have huge oceans as potential water sources.


The findings of this study were presented in Seattle on Jan. 8 at the 225th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. According to the report by the Huffington Post, a super-Earth is defined as an extrasolar planet having greater mass when compared to Earth’s but smaller once compared to Neptune and Uranus.

It is important to recycle the existing water in order to maintain the oceans and Earth has been doing it convincingly since ages. Earth mantle holds the water that eventually goes back to the surface through volcanic activities.

Scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astronomy (CfA) wanted to figure out whether the super-Earths have any similar process. In this research, scientists used computer simulations on different super-Earths. Their main aims were to predict the time it takes to form oceans and whether it is possible for the oceans to remain there on the super-Earths.

It was found that super-Earths, two and four times greater than Earth’s mass play better hosts as far as establishment and maintenance of oceans are concerned. Also, these oceans could last for at least 10 billion years, concluded the same research.


Laura Schaefer, a CfA graduate student and the leader of this work further suggested that these findings will be of great help for the astronomers in the future to identify the exoplanet with more likelihood of hosting life.

“When people consider whether a planet is in the habitable zone, they think about its distance from the star and its temperature,” Schaefer said at a press conference. “However, they should also think about oceans, and look at super-Earths to find a good sailing or surfing destination.”