Super-Earths may have oceans and continents

Posted by K R on

"Are the surfaces of super-Earths totally dry or covered in water?" said Nicolas B. Cowan, a Northwestern University astrophysicist at the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) . "We tackled this question by applying known geophysics to astronomy." Massive terrestrial planets, called "super-Earths," are known to be common in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Now Cowen and a University of Chicago geophysicist report the odds of these planets having an Earth-like climate are much greater than previously thought. Cowan and Dorian Abbot's new model challenges the conventional wisdom which says super-Earths actually would be very unlike Earth -- each would be a waterworld, with its surface completely covered in water. They conclude that most tectonically active super-Earths -- regardless of mass -- store most of their water in the mantle and will have both oceans and exposed continents, enabling a stable climate such as Earth's. "Super-Earths are expected to have deep oceans that will overflow their basins and inundate the entire surface, but we show this logic to be flawed," he said. "Terrestrial planets have significant amounts of water in their interior. Super-Earths are likely to have shallow oceans to go along with their shallow ocean basins." Read More at Daily Galaxy.

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