The Hycean planets are covered in water and have a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. Scientists now believe that the new class of exoplanets could provide good opportunities for finding life.
The so-called bright planets are numerous, but science has previously overlooked them a little. It is a new class of exoplanets where the name combines the word hydrogen, after the hydrogen-rich atmosphere, and the word ocean because it is covered with water.
This category could theoretically include giant, rocky planets whose masses are greater than our Earth’s but at the same time much smaller than Uranus and Neptune. In addition to the so-called minineptunus, exoplanets whose mass is also significantly less than the two ice giants but have a thicker Neptune atmosphere.
Now researchers at the University of Cambridge are opening up that massive planets could be excellent candidates for finding alien life. This was stated in the study published by the team in Astrophysical Journal. The researchers say it is very likely that within a few years they will find traces of biological life outside the solar system.
In the past, science mainly considered exoplanets where the composition of the atmosphere, mass, and temperature are similar to those of the Earth. There, life can be traced in the form of oxygen, ozone, methane, or nitric oxide. But Cambridge astronomers think massive planets are an interesting alternative, and with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, interesting biomarkers could also be methyl chloride and dimethyl sulfide.
Hycean planets can be up to 2.6 times larger than Earth. Depending on the star, the atmospheric temperature is sometimes close to 200 degrees, but despite this, the sea creates conditions for life. One idea is that life could sprout on the shadow side of planets, which are not exposed to the star’s radiation.
Planets of a given size dominate in the total range of exoplanets, and they are easy to study. This opens up entirely new areas for finding life, and now the university has selected a number of suitable candidates for studies with the next generation of telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope. Cambridge writes on his site website.
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