WHY PLANETS WITH WATER MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY SUPPORT LIFE

Aug 24, 2015 by

 In Brief A new study looks at so-called “waterworlds” finds that in worlds with potentially 100 times the amount of water on Earth the carbon cycle might not be hospitable for life.
According to the study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, these waterworlds have oceans so deep and wide that they won’t act like water on Earth. For instance, high-pressure water ice might form at the bottom of the ocean, preventing the carbon-silicate cycle observed on earth. Other reasons why recently proposed waterworlds might not support life acidic oceans.
The study finds that certain planet sizes end up leading to positive-feedback carbon cycles — creating a runaway greenhouse effect and either making the planet too hot for life as we know it or too cold. Of course, there are a good deal of assumptions on the part of the study’s authors. For instance, the study doesn’t consider tectonic activity, which could offset some of the positive feedback loops the authors describe. The authors also did not assess forms of life that might be able to thrive in environments with more or less carbon dioxide than on earth.

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