According to scientists, most habitable planets in the cosmos will be dominated by liquid water that spans over 90 percent of their surface. Scientists indicate that for a planet to have both water and land, there must exist a delicate balance between the volume of water it retains over time, and how much space it has to store it. So astronauts, when exploring alien world remember to bring your swimming suits.
Fergus Simpsonbringthe Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona has based his research on the so-called Bayesian probability—an interpretation of the concept of probability, in which, instead of frequency or propensity of some phenomenon, probability is interpreted as reasonable expectation representing a state of knowledge or as quantification of a personal belief —to predict the balance between land and water on habitable exoplanets. The results are published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
According to the study, most habitable planets in the cosmos will be dominated by humongous oceans that span over 90 percent of their surface. Experts say that the new discoveries could help understand why we ‘evolved’ on Earth, and not on some of the billions of other planets that are scattered throughout the cosmos.
All of this comes from researchers at the Institute of Cosmos Science at the University of Barcelona who came up with a statistical model that helps predict the coverage of land and water on different planets in the universe.
According to scientists, for a planet to have both water and land, there must exist a delicate balance between the volume of water it retains over time, and how much space it has to store it. AS experts note, these quantities may vary substantially across the spectrum of water-bearing planets.
“A scenario in which the Earth holds less water than most other habitable planets would be consistent with results from simulations, and could help explain why some planets have been found to be a bit less dense than we expected,” explains Simpson.
Simpson has found that our planet’s oceans may be a consequence of the anthropic principle – more often used in a cosmological context – which accounts for how our observations of the Universe are influenced by the requirement for the formation of sentient life, according to the Royal Astronomical Society.
“Based on the Earth’s ocean coverage of 71%, we find substantial evidence supporting the hypothesis that anthropic selection effects are at work,” comments Simpson.
To test his statistical model, Simpson and his colleagues took into account feedback mechanisms such as the deep water cycle, and erosion and deposition processes.
“Our understanding of the development of life may be far from complete, but it is not so dire that we must adhere to the conventional approximation that all habitable planets have an equal chance of hosting intelligent life,” Simpson concludes.
Astrophysicist Sean N. Raymond, who wasn’t involved with the study, in an interview with Gizmodo said, “I’m a bit puzzled about this paper. I find studies that extrapolate from N=1 to be interesting but hard to interpret. In this case, there are plenty of unanswered—but relevant questions.”
As noted by Gizmodo, we still aren’t quite sure as to how Earth got all of its water. The most widely accepted theories indicate that our planet received a ‘cosmic delivery’ of water by asteroids and comets.
If that theory is correct, then it is extremely difficult to predict how much water may exist on a different planet.
“In the ‘classical model’ of terrestrial planet formation, water delivery to Earth is very [random] so it’s reasonable to imagine alternate Earths with over ten times more water,” said Raymond. “However, in our newer models much less water is delivered but the delivery is more reliable.”
Featured image: More common than you might think. (Image: Interstellar)