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Exoplanets Likely to Have Water, Hospitable to Life

A recent study shows that planets outside our solar system, exoplanets, are expected to have liquid and be more habitable than previously thought.

“Planets with potential oceans could have a climate that is much more similar to Earth’s than previously expected,” said Jeremy Leconte, post-doctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) at University of Toronto.

The study by astrophysicists from University of Toronto, Canada, suggests that exoplanets rotate around their stars; they spin at such a speed as to exhibit a day-night cycle similar to Earth.

Leconte and his team have reached their conclusions via a three-dimensional climate model they developed to predict the effect of a given planet’s atmosphere on the speed of its rotation, which results in changes to its climate.

“Atmosphere is a key factor affecting a planet’s spin, the impact of which can be of enough significance to overcome synchronous rotation and put a planet in a day-night cycle,” Leconte informed.

Scientists have thought that exoplanets behave in a manner contrary to that of the Earth, that is, they always show their same side to their star.

If so, exoplanets would rotate in sync with their star so that there is always one hemisphere facing it while the other hemisphere is in perpetual cold darkness.

While concluding, Leconte stated in the paper, “If we are correct, there is no permanent, cold night side on exoplanets causing water to remain trapped in a gigantic ice sheet.” The paper appeared in the journal Science Express.

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