Lowering Life’s Chances on Super-Earths

by Paul Gilster on September 28, 2012

Super-Earths are exciting finds. The more of them we discover, the more likely it seems that life is abundant in the cosmos. But new work examining the viscosity and melting temperature of mantle rock is casting a different aura over super-Earths. Rather than being planets much like the Earth but simply more massive — worlds characterized by thick atmospheres, plate tectonics, volcanic activity and magnetic fields — they may differ in fundamental ways. With internal pressures tens of times higher than those found in Earth’s interior, large viscosities and melting temperatures could have adverse consequences on the planet’s habitability.

Read more: Lowering Life’s Chances on Super-Earths — Centauri Dreams

Home           Top of page