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Earth-like exoplanets unlikely to be another ‘pale blue dot’

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Earth-like exoplanets are unlikely

Terrestrial planets can develop in three scenarios of land/ocean distribution: covered by land, oceans, or an equal mixture of the two. A planet covered in Earth is the most likely scenario (about 80%), while our “equal mixture” of Earth (

When searching for Earth-like worlds around other stars, rather than searching for the “faint blue dot” described by Carl Sagan, new research suggests that searching for dry, cool “faint yellow dots” may have a better chance of success. The close balance between land and water that helped life thrive on Earth may be very unusual, according to a Swiss-German study presented at the 2022 Europlanet Science Conference in Granada.

Tilman Spoon and Dennis Hoeing studied how the evolution and cycles of continents and waters could shape the evolution of terrestrial exoplanets. Their model results suggest that the probability that planets are covered by Earth is about 80%, with 20% likely that they are primarily oceanic worlds. Barely 1% of the results had an earth-like distribution of land and water.

Professor Spoon said: “We Earthlings enjoy a balance between land and ocean regions on our home planet. It is tempting to assume that a second Earth will be just like our planet, but our modeling results suggest that this is unlikely to be the case.” , Executive Director of the International Institute for Astronomy in Bern, Switzerland.

The team’s numerical models indicate that average surface temperatures won’t be very different, perhaps with a difference of 5 degrees Celsius, but the distribution from land to ocean will influence planetary climates. The ocean world, with less than 10% of Earth, is likely to be humid and warm, with a climate similar to Earth in the tropical and subtropical era that followed the asteroid impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Continental worlds, containing less than 30% of the oceans, will have cooler, drier, and harsher climates. Cold deserts may occupy the interior of land masses, and in general will resemble our Earth sometime during the last Ice Age, when glaciers and ice sheets developed.

On Earth, the growth of continents through volcanic activity and erosion by weather factors is roughly balanced. Photosynthesis-based life thrives on Earth, where it has direct access to solar energy. The oceans provide a huge reservoir of water that enhances precipitation and prevents the current climate from becoming too dry.

“In the engine of Earth’s tectonic plates, internal heat drives geological activity, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain formation, and leads to the growth of continents. Earth erosion is part of a series of cycles that exchange water between the atmosphere and mountains. Our numerical models of how these cycles interact show that Today’s Earth may be an extraordinary planet, and the landmass balance may be unstable over billions of years.While all planets that have been designed can be considered habitable, their animals and plants could be very different,” said Professor Spoon.

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more information:
Conference summary: meetingorganizer.copernicus.or… 22 / EPSC2022-506.html

Submitted by the European Astrobiological Network Society

the quote: Unlikely other Earth-like exoplanets “pale blue dot” (2022, September 20) Retrieved September 20, 2022 from

This document is subject to copyright. Notwithstanding any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

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