Possibility of finding young Earth-like planets higher than before

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 08, 2020

British researchers have found that the possibility of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of inception is higher than previously thought.

The team of researchers from the University of Sheffield analysed groups of young stars in the Milky Way to see if they were the same compared to theories and previous observations in other star-forming regions in space. They also studied if the populations of stars in these groups affected the likelihood of finding forming Earth-like planets.

The research, published in The Astrophysical Journal as cited in the agency report, found that there are many stars like the Sun than earlier thought. This would increase the chances of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of formation.

In their early stages of formation, these Earth-like planets, called magma ocean planets, are still being made from collisions with rocks and smaller planets, which causes them to heat up so much that their surfaces become molten rock, according to media reports.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Parker said: "These magma ocean planets are easier to detect near stars like the Sun, which are twice as heavy as the average mass star. These planets emit so much heat that we will be able to observe the glow from them using the next generation of infrared telescopes.”

The research included undergraduate students to give them an opportunity to apply the skills learned during their course to leading published research in their field.

Parker added: "The locations where we would find these planets are so-called 'young moving groups' which are groups of young stars that are less than 100 million years old - which is young for a star. However, they typically only contain a few tens of stars each and it was previously difficult to determine whether we had found all of the stars in each group because they blend into the background of the Milky Way galaxy.”

"Observations from the Gaia telescope have helped us find many more stars in these groups, which has enabled us to carry out this study,” he added.

The key findings of the research are significant to the study of how habitable planets form. The team now hopes to use computer simulations to explain the origin of these young moving groups of stars.

Published on June 08, 2020

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