Looking for a 'superhabitable' world? Try Alpha Centauri B, paper says

Jan 23, 2014
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

The search for extraterrestrial life extends far beyond Earth's solar system, looking for planets or moons outside the "stellar habitable zone" that may have environments even more favorable to supporting life than here on Earth. These superhabitable worlds have unique characteristics and are ideal targets for extrasolar exploration, as described in a provocative Hypothesis Article in Astrobiology.

In "Superhabitable Worlds" René Heller, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) and John Armstrong, Weber State University (Ogden, UT), propose how can create conditions in which life could emerge on an icy or terrestrial planet or moon once thought to be uninhabitable.

"A great place for hydrothermal microorganisms and a in the weather forecast every morning and evening," says Norman Sleep, Senior Editor for Astrobiology and Professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, "a tidally heated planet would be unpleasant though spectacular to visit."

Explore further: Magnetic fields are crucial to exomoon habitability

More information: The article is available free on the Astrobiology website.

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MandoZink
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2014
Possibly more significant than discovering some type of life existing elsewhere might be the realization that Earth has actually been only a marginally habitable place. In reality, life may be much more likely to arise on better-suited planets. I think it's a perfectly reasonable and optimistic adjustment to our long-held anthropic view of extraterrestrial possibilities.

The article above is too brief and unfortunately offers only an odd example of a borderline habitable location. Not much enthusiasm shown for the actual subject..
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2014
I say - super habitable for what?
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (4) Jan 23, 2014
It should say "paper suggests". Because we don't know. How can we know for sure?
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (2) Jan 23, 2014
Possibly more significant than discovering some type of life existing elsewhere might be the realization that Earth has actually been only a marginally habitable place. In reality, life may be much more likely to arise on better-suited planets. I think it's a perfectly reasonable and optimistic adjustment to our long-held anthropic view of extraterrestrial possibilities.


Well, it depends more on your definition and what kind of life you're talking about.
MandoZink
5 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2014
Well, it depends more on your definition and what kind of life you're talking about.

Admittedly, I have no clue and I will no doubt expire with only the reasoned speculation of fine minds to go on until then. I am certain that we will be surprised at what we eventually learn. I am optimistic that we'll discover phenomena we had not even conceived of.

Think about it. We're routinely amazed by unexpected discoveries on this one planet, while there are probably at least 400,000,000,000 planets in this galaxy alone that we know nothing about. Damned good odds for an abundance of astoundment and confoundment.

But again, I don't know what to expect, but I do expect it.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2014
If you haven't done so already, you should check out the embedded link in the article, which actually takes you to an un-paywalled version of the full paper.

They get into some nice specifics, but I think that one of the main points of the article is the range of diversity we should expect. They point out that there are so many crucial factors that can add up to so many different results, with only slight variations of each factor, that it is nearly imopossible to define a 'habitable zone' around a given star. In stead, they suggest that each specific planet type will have its own habitable zone around any given star.

I didn't see anything really wrong with their suggestions, but they do include the following disclaimer: "our considerations are anticipatory". In other words, we really don't know yet. We should start to get some really good observations in the next couple decades though.