Study: Global Warming On Other Planets Could Make Finding Aliens Harder

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A scientific study published Wednesday concluded that global warming on other planets has made billions of planets unable to host life, making it a lot harder to find aliens.

The new research, published by the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests that planets in the “Goldilocks Zone,” the region around a star that has just the right conditions to find liquid water on a planet’s surface, are likely to be encased in stifling atmospheres. These thick atmospheres would likely cause a runaway greenhouse effect, which would boil away water and make the world’s too hot for life to develop.

This is especially true for red dwarf stars, which make up three-quarters of the stars in the Milky Way. These stars likely host billions of potentially habitable planets, meaning that there are far fewer aliens in the universe than previous estimates.

“It was previously assumed that planets with masses similar to Earth would be habitable simply because they were in the ‘habitable zone,'” Dr. James Owen, the lead author of the study, said in a press statement. “However, when you consider how these planets evolve over billions of years this assumption turns out not to be true.”

The study used detailed computer simulations and modeling to determine that the best hope for a planet developing life would come from strong radiation stripping away a world’s atmosphere enough to make it potentially habitable. A similar process occurred to Mars is our own solar system.

The research came to the opposite conclusion of a study published in April, which used the most recent discoveries of planets outside the solar system to estimate the likelihood that other technologically advanced civilizations exist. The study estimates that the odds of humanity being the only civilization in the universe are less than one chance in about “10 billion trillion.”

NASA announced earlier this month that the Kepler Space Telescope found and verified 1,284 new exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. Roughly 550 of the new exoplanets could be rocky planets like Earth based on their size. Nine of these exoplanets orbit in their stars’ “Goldilocks Zones,” the region around a star that has just the right conditions for liquid water to be found on the planet’s surface.

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