HomeSpace NewsRocky alien worlds may need to be young to support life

Rocky alien worlds may need to be young to support life

As the search for life in the universe continues, scientists already know it’s not enough to find rocky planets in a star’s habitable zone, the region where a planet can host liquid water, a requirement for life as we know it.

That’s just the starting point. Indeed, other factors, such as nitrogen, may play a role in a planet’s habitability, as well as the ratio of land to sea. Now, a team of scientists suggests that one of the key characteristics of a life-supporting, rocky exoplanet is that it must be young — just a few billion years old at most. That’s because, to support life, a planet needs enough heat to power a carbon cycle, which is typically created due to the radioactive decay of elements such as uranium and thorium. 



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