University of Aberdeen and St. Andrews researchers say that cold rocky planets of Earth’s size can support life at least ten times as far away from stars as currently thought. That, they say, is because life could be underneath the planets’ surface:
“As you get deeper below a planet’s surface, the temperature increases, and once you get down to a temperature where liquid water can exist – life can exist there too.”
The team created a computer model that estimates the temperature below the surface of a planet of a given size, at a given distance from its star.
While the deepest known Earth life is at 5.3 km, doctoral student Sean McMahon suggested there could be life down at 10 km. And liquid water could survive at that level even if Earth was much further away from the sun. So, says researcher Sean McMahon: “Earth might even be unusual in having life on the surface.”
Similar suggestions are made for Mars.
Now, if only liquid water was all that was needed for life. How did the subterranean life on Earth come to be there anyway? Did it just come to exist there on its own or did it move down there over time?
See the paper at Planetary and Space Science
See also: Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …
Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!
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Note: Similar ideas also center on Jupiter’s moon Europa: