Water is one of the key features that every planet should possess to sustain life. However, some TRAPPIST 1 planets may have too much of it. If there is too much water in the atmosphere of a planet, scientists may find it difficult to find evidence of life, according to a new study to orbit the planet TRAPPIST-1.
The researchers who studied the TRAPPIST-1 planets published their findings in the journal Nature Astronomy, and they report huge amounts of water on the planet of the star. Two of the planets have surfaces that are more than 50% covered by water. This would make it extremely difficult for researchers to distinguish between biological life forms and geochemical signatures.
TRAPPIST-1 is an M-type red dwarf star that is only 40 light-years from the sun. According to scientists, the star hosts seven planets orbiting it, while three of the planets are in the habitable zone of the star.
Scientists are happy to discover M dwarves like TRAPPIST-1 because they are believed to be the most common type of star to host planets with conditions in support of extraterrestrial life in our galaxy. The researchers used estimates made on the masses of TRAPPIST-1 planets to measure their densities. After that, they referred to a program that would help them determine which planetary components could be put together to match those results. Planets with lower densities in the system indicated that water covered their surfaces
They discovered four planets that could absorb water, two of which had less than 15% water, while the other two had more than half of their water Surface. These humid planets are located in the habitable zone of TRAPPIST-1, which means that at least part of this water should be in the liquid state.
One of the authors of the study, an exogenologist at Arizona State University at Tempe, Cayman Unterborn, said, according to ScienceNews, that the liquid water on one of the planets, TRAPPIST-1f, reaches 125 miles deep, while it travels about 1,400 miles Ice is under this liquid water.
However, massive storage of water on TRAPPIST-1 planets could mean that extraterrestrial life can barely thrive on them. The thick ice and water could mean that the planets would have difficulty regulating temperatures that would be acceptable for life.
So much water could make it impossible for carbon and other chemicals to move into the oceans. Thanks to the weather and erosion, chemical building blocks on earth, such as carbon, reach the oceans. If there is no land on other planets, scientists will not be able to determine if molecules in water mean that there is a sign of life.
As far as geological activity on the planet is concerned, "the vast majority of the data out there is for a planet, and it belongs to us," said Unterborn ScienceNews.
"Although M dwarfs may be the most abundant livable planetary host in our galaxy," the authors wrote in the journal Nature Astronomy, "they may be the hardest to discover life."