the final frontier

What super Earths mean for finding life in the galaxy

Our galaxy is full of planets orbiting countless stars, and scientists tentatively call some of them “Earth-like,” but what does that really mean?

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Of these, only a small fraction are Super Earths.

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Earth has a special mix of active geology, surface liquid water, magnetic field, thick (but not too thick) atmosphere, and that small range of temperatures in which life as we know it can thrive.

Sometimes a star blasts a Super Earth with too much radiation.

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However, even though these exoplanets orbit in their star’s habitable zone, scientists still don’t know much about their atmospheres or surfaces.

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Astronomers find more Super Earths every year. Some of them even show up in the stacks of yet-to-be-analyzed data from old missions, like the Kepler Telescope, which operated from 2009 to 2018.

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