Some Planets May Be Better for Life than Earth
by Sara Zaske | WSU News
Earth is not necessarily the best planet in the universe. Researchers have identified two dozen planets outside our solar system that may have conditions more suitable for life than our own. Some of these orbit stars that may be better than even our sun.
A study led by Washington State University scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch recently published in the journal Astrobiology details characteristics of potential “superhabitable” planets which include those that are older, a little larger, slightly warmer and possibly wetter than Earth. Life could also more easily thrive on planets that circle more slowly changing stars with longer lifespans than our sun.
The 24 top contenders for superhabitable planets are all more than 100 light years away, but Schulze-Makuch said the study could help focus future observation efforts, such as from NASA’s James Web Space Telescope, the LUVIOR space observatory and the European Space Agency’s PLATO space telescope.
“With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” said Schulze-Makuch, a professor with WSU and the Technical University in Berlin. “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.”