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back to article Super-Earths' magnetic FORCE FIELDS could harbour ALIEN LIFE

A geo-boffinry study has found that super-Earths could have oceans of liquid metal and magnetic shields that protect life on their surfaces. Artist's impression of the planetary system around HD10180 The heat and pressure inside planets bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune alters the magnesium oxide in their rocky …

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Alien

life?

Could mean life on a moon which is close enough to the super-earth to be protected by it's magnetic field?

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Boffin

Re: life?

A moon orbiting a super-Earth through the planet’s magnetic field would have an electrical current induced through it, heating it up and generating a reactive magnetic field within the moon. It seems to me the moon would actually have *less* magnetic shielding as a result, and the planet would have to have a whopping magnetic field to adequately protect the moon.

However, it’s not too hard to imagine a moon with a slightly eccentric orbit around a large terrestrial planet. That moon would experience tidal frictional heating, like Io, and so could possess an atmosphere and its own magnetic field. Basically, you could have a mini-Titan orbiting a super-Earth, but due to the proximity of the star the chemistry of the moon could spark Earth-style biochemistry.

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Silver badge

hmm

"I think the next step is to see if models can confirm our findings."

Lucy, 26, from Bristol, says no.

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Mushroom

Re: hmm

But Peta 24 from Essex says, "Yes!"

There's only one way to settle this: magma wresling!

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Happy

Re: hmm

Of course she does, you ever known an Essex girl who says "No"?

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Re: hmm

i once was in a tesco in essex and asked the girl on the checkout if she wanted sex and she said no but i didnt leave emptyhanded i had pizza, dairylea and tub of neapolitan ice cream so it was ok

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FAIL

Re: NomNomNom

I hope you asked for sex after she checked your 'forever alone' groceries.

Would have been awkward standing there avoiding eye contact otherwise.

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Anonymous Coward

The things astronomers see when there's a fly speck on the lens.

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Boffin

Magma oceans and life-friendliness

Well, I have to admit, I have a hard time seeing much aqueous chemistry on a planet with lava oceans, so any life on these planets is bound to be quite different from terrestrial life. Would cosmic rays be equally destructive on alien biochemistry? Gamma rays are definitely problematic, but as recent Mars measurements demonstrate, the simple presence of an atmosphere handles alpha, beta and gamma cosmic radiation reasonably well without a magnetic field.

I would guess this means more possibilities to consider for alien-biochemistry models. We know of the existence of *one type* of Goldilocks Zone now, the one we inhabit; but what other combinations of radiation, temperature, heat and chemistry could harbour biochemistry?

It’s simplistic to imagine we could just swap silicon for carbon, or methane for water, just because of the existence of some shared properties. And I admit my knowledge of organic chemistry is fairly basic (har har har).

What other kinds of Goldilocks Zones may exist?

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Silver badge

Who says the life is on the surface?

On a high gravity super earth with a dense atmosphere the air is your ocean, life could evolve there.

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""To really understand a planet we need to model the whole thing," McWilliams said. "This can be done with advanced computer codes, for example, that describe the formation of a planet's magnetic field. I think the next step is to see if models can confirm our findings.""

*ADVANCED COMPUTER CODES

IF WS-IS-PLANET

----IF WS-MAGNET-LEVEL > 10

--------MOVE 1 TO WS-HAS-LIFE

----END-IF

END-IF

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Silver badge

Did he really say that?

It makes him sound rather silly, and I suspect he's probably pretty clever on account of using large numbers of giant frickin' lasers on a daily basis with killing or maiming anyone.

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Thumb Down

I don't recall the official Reg unit for temperature

... but I'll bet it's not Fahrenheit

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