Earth-like planets ‘may not be life-friendly’

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LONDON - A new study has revealed that planets like the Earth that we thought could support life, might not be life-friendly, and lack a protective magnetic field.

According to New Scientist, Super-Earths lack what makes life in Earth possible, a protective magnetic field.

Planets are thought to owe their magnetic fields to an iron core that is at least partly molten. But a simulation of super-Earths between a few times and 10 times Earth’s mass suggests that high pressures will keep the core solid, according to Guillaume Morard of the Institute of Mineralogy and Physics of Condensed Matter in Paris, France, and his team.

Without a magnetic field, the planets would be bathed in harmful radiation, and their atmospheres would be eroded away by particles streaming from their stars. So life would have trouble getting started on super-Earths, even if they lie in the habitable zone around their stars.

However, Vlada Stamankovic of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin said it was too early to rule out molten iron cores - and magnetic fields - for super-Earths.

“Their interiors might get hot enough to melt iron. Actual temperatures could be much larger than assumed - we simply do not know,” he said. (ANI)

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