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Are radioactive elements crucial for rocky planets?


So even the “nukes” are needed for life as we know it?:

The amount of long-lived radioactive elements incorporated into a rocky planet as it forms may be a crucial factor in determining its future habitability, according to a new study by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at UC Santa Cruz.

That’s because internal heating from the radioactive decay of the heavy elements thorium and uranium drives plate tectonics and may be necessary for the planet to generate a magnetic field. Earth’s magnetic field protects the planet from solar winds and cosmic rays.

Convection in Earth’s molten metallic core creates an internal dynamo (the “geodynamo”) that generates the planet’s magnetic field. Earth’s supply of radioactive elements provides more than enough internal heating to generate a persistent geodynamo, according to Francis Nimmo, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz and first author of a paper on the new findings, published November 10 in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Tim Stephens, University of California – Santa Cruz, “Radioactive elements may be crucial to the habitability of rocky planets” at ScienceDaily

The paper. is paywalled.

See also: Fine-tuning: What becomes of science when the evidence does not matter?

1st and 2nd Generation GALAXIES (not STARS) don't have enough heavy elements to support life. 3rd and 4th Generation Galaxies DO. 5th and 6th Generation and anything beyond have TOO MANY radioactive elements on their planets to allow ANY Life to survive. So the search is a WHOLE LOT easier than people are trying to make it. Again, we're writing off ENTIRE GALAXIES in 1 whack. And then there's Milky Way, and Sol, and Earth. If we can't find other islands of Life in Milky Way, there ain't much point in wasting money looking at stars 1,000 light years away. mahuna
"Future habitability" is an odd phrase. Seems like the point should be past or existing habitability. Earth is better for life because it's internally warmed, and because the magnetic field provides guidance and navigation for bacteria who form the literal 'starter culture' for more complex life. Similar planets should have similar chances of life. The focus on "future" implies that the researchers are just working for Lord Bezos, helping to locate planets where the Supreme Lord Of The Universe can live in Supreme Glory after he finishes exterminating all the Deplorables here.. polistra

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