Astronomers hope to discover life outside of this solar system on a newly identified class of Earth-like exoplanets with large oceans that are “bigger and hotter than Earth” in the next few years, CBS News reports.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge hope to find life on Hycean planets, which are covered in oceans and have hydrogen-rich atmospheres much like Earth, but can be up to 2.6 times the size of this planet with atmospheric temperatures of up to almost 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although astronomers have identified thousands of planets outside of our Solar System, most lack the conditions to support life due to extremely low average temperatures or no water.
“Hycean planets open a whole new avenue in our search for life elsewhere,” Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, who led the study that identified the new class of planet, told the news outlet.
“Essentially, when we’ve been looking for these various molecular signatures, we have been focusing on planets similar to Earth, which is a reasonable place to start,” Madhusudhan added. “But we think Hycean planets offer a better chance of finding several trace biosignatures.”
He went on to say that “a biosignature detection would transform our understanding of life in the universe. We need to be open about where we expect to find life and what form that life could take, as nature continues to surprise us in often unimaginable ways.”
Cambridge’s Anjali Piette, co-author of the study, said that "it's exciting that habitable conditions could exist on planets so different from Earth.”
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.