Better start packing
With an asteroid set to hit the atmosphere a day before the US elections, astronomers have identified 24 possible “superhabitable” planets out there that are “even better for life than our Earth,” according to a recent study published in the journal Astrobiology.
Instead of planets that resemble Earth, the worlds featured in the study were chosen because they can, hypothetically, support more biodiversity and biomass than Earth due to a number of factors such as mass and temperature. “We are so focused on finding a mirror image of Earth that we may overlook a planet that is even more well suited for life,” the project’s lead astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch said during an interview with VICE.
The team went looking for warmer and more humid planets roughly the same size as Earth, allowing some to be 1.5 times our size to give life more room to evolve. One standout planet is twice the size of Earth and 3,000 light-years away from us.
“With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” Schulze-Makuch explained to The Weather Channel. “We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth, because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.”
Last month, scientists detected possible signs of life on Venus. Researchers at MIT and Cardiff University, among others, found traces of phosphine, a rare and toxic gas emitted by some lifeforms on Earth, in the atmosphere of our neighbouring planet, so we asked an expert what to make of it.