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Other Solar Systems Could Be More Habitable Than Ours 143

SternisheFan sends word of new research out of Ohio State University into the possibility of life arising in other star systems: "Scattered around the Milky Way are stars that resemble our own sun—but a new study is finding that any planets orbiting those stars may very well be hotter and more dynamic than Earth. That's because the interiors of any terrestrial planets in these systems are likely warmer than Earth—up to 25 percent warmer, which would make them more geologically active and more likely to retain enough liquid water to support life, at least in its microbial form. ... 'If it turns out that these planets are warmer than we previously thought, then we can effectively increase the size of the habitable zone around these stars by pushing the habitable zone farther from the host star, and consider more of those planets hospitable to microbial life,' said Unterborn, who presented the results at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week."
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Other Solar Systems Could Be More Habitable Than Ours

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  • by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @07:26PM (#42186151)

    Runaway greenhouse effect. Basically the fate Earth will end up in.

    No. There's been times in the past when the CO2 levels in our atmosphere were twenty times higher than they are today. The rise since the Industrial Revolution is nothing compared to back then. Of course, back then we had "tropical" climes north of the Arctic Circle, but it didn't lead to a Venus-like runaway greenhouse effect. No, the true horror will be men wearing Speedos on the beach in Point Barrow...

  • Error, error (Score:5, Informative)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:33PM (#42188001)

    Sorry, lots of things wrong with that post.

    It's physically impossible for an object to spin on two axes - if you try you just get it spinning around some intermediate axis. What a moon does is gravitationally "knead" it's parent planet, causing tides in the atmosphere, oceans, and rock. That causes the planet to heat slightly, and may promote the development of life in other ways (tide pools may have played an important role in the early development of life on Earth).

    Also a moon will *slow down* its planet's rotation, not speed it up. That tidal heat dissipates energy until the planet is tide-locked with it's moon - in our case we'd have about 12 days per year. The same effect happens in the other direction as well, which is why only one side of the moon is visible from Earth. The sun has a similar effect, though weaker since the sun is much, much further away. Venus and Mercury likely have such long days because they're considerably closer to the sun and so the tidal forces are much greater - given enough time they'll be fully tide-locked and have permanently light and dark faces.

    Finally, finding a new planet for us to move to in order to escape the consequences of our actions is not a realistic option - Mars is a likely a viable terraforming candidate, but it'd likely be far easier to repair the damage to our own planet than make that desolate planet green, not to mention it would likely take at least several, and we probably don't have that kind of time if we don't get our act together. Even if we managed the terraforming, transporting several billion people interplanetary distances would likely be beyond our capacity in a relevant timeframe - we're currently adding hundreds of thousands of new people every day. We might be able to create colonies which would be nice for the rich, powerful, and highly desirable, but the vast majority of the population will have to deal with the consequences.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle