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Hycean Planets and the Search for Alien Life

As humans look at ways to reach space more easily, scientists and researchers think that the search for alien life should continue and hycean planets may be the answer.

Normally, researchers look for Earth-like planets. They possess conditions that support life as we understand it. However, that may not be the best place to look at all.

Learn more: Strange Places: Top 5 Strange Places in the Milky Way

The Hycean Planets

New research shows that aliens might live on planets not like Earth. They are the Hycean planets, characterized by massive oceans of liquid water beneath hydrogen-rich atmospheres. These hycean planets are present in abundance throughout the Milky Way. And they show characteristics between super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.

Surprisingly, hycean planets may harbor microbial life similar to the extremophiles in Earth’s oceans. Nikku Madhusudhan, at the University of Cambridge, argues this is best place to find alien life. The Astrophysical Journal published these findings on August 2021.

extremophile bacteria

Yes, the focus is on extremophile bacteria. However, basic life must exist before more complex life can ever evolve. For example, in Earth’s deep ocean, more complex multicellular life evolved to thrive in of low-light, high-pressure conditions. For example, giant tube worms in the deep Pacific Ocean live near warm hydrothermal vents. Amazingly, they convert hydrogen sulfide directly into energy. Nor do they use photosynthesis at all.

Giant tubeworms in the Pacific Ocean

Still, these planets have extreme and harsh conditions by Earth standards. However, life is extremely adaptable. These planets could support life even in the night side waters of tidally-locked worlds.

Signs of life and actual life could be searched for in these types of planets by new technologies like NASA’s $9.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope.

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Written by David


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