indicate study conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to the existence of 17 planets outside the solar system that could have oceans that support life beneath the surface of the frozen ice.
It is also possible, according to the study, that these planets have springs and rivers with hot water flowing beneath the surface.
The research is based on comparing the discovered planets with Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's Enceladus moon, as they are a gateway to finding planets with the same conditions, so that the search does not expand.
In their quest to find planets outside the solar system that are suitable for hosting some kind of life, NASA scientists have traditionally focused their research on a region around the star called the “habitable zone”, where surface temperatures are moderate, and therefore water exists in its liquid state, and this zone in relation to… The solar system includes both Earth and Mars.
However, even distant, cold exoplanets could harbor oceans beneath their frigid surfaces if they were exposed to internal heating or geothermal energy, as is the case for Europa and Enceladus in the solar system.
If found, these oceans under the surfaces of planets may possess the ingredients for life, due to the availability of energy, elements, and compounds necessary for biological processes.
On Earth, various ecosystems flourish near hydrothermal vents (thermal vents) at the bottom Oceans Which do not reach sunlight at all, and they are chimney-like openings that spew hot mineral water into the ocean floors.
Likewise, this first-of-its-kind research is based on studying Earth-sized planets with lower densities, which contain extensive ice layers rather than denser masses of rock. By reading the planet's temperatures, it is possible to determine the state of its surface if it is covered with ice.
In order to read the surface temperature, researchers rely on studying the planet’s brightness, and to estimate the total resulting geothermal heat, each planet’s orbit around its star is studied, thus identifying the heat resulting from tidal processes, in addition to the heat resulting from expected radioactivity.
By knowing these two factors, researchers can determine the thickness of the ice layers for each planet.
Finally, scientists use all the previous data to determine the amount of thermal steam vents present on the surface of the planet resulting from the continuous water extraction process, by comparing it to the moons Europa and Enceladus, which have thermal vents on their surfaces, as recent discoveries have shown.
Scientists believe that the steam craters on the surfaces of the discovered planets could be hundreds and thousands of times larger than those found on Europa and Enceladus.
The mechanism for seeing this geological activity is only possible when observing the planet as it passes in front of its star, as the emitted vapor dims or blocks a faint part of the star’s light, and then it is evidence of the presence of ice volcanic eruptions on the surface. Moreover, it is also possible to identify the elements and chemical compounds contained in the rising water vapor, given that these elements absorb light in distinct and specific colors, and accordingly, scientists can analyze the light and the amount of vapor and evaluate the planet’s ability to embrace life.
These fine details cannot be seen from vast distances except by using telescopes with high resolution and superior power. This research provides a new concept and perspective for reading the temperatures of the surfaces of planets outside the solar system and potential geological activities on them, and searching for the possibility of the existence of life far from Earth.