In science lessons, many could learn that conditions on Earth are ideal for sustaining life. However, your teacher could be wrong.
When it comes to habitability, Earth actually ranks at the downright obscene 25th known planet. In front of our pale blue dot are two dozen so-called “superinhabited” exoplanets, which are similar to Earth, but with potentially milder conditions. Scientists say these celestial bodies may be prime candidates for the search for alien life.
To find these 24 worlds, researchers at Washington State University surveyed every known exoplanet to find conditions that seem even better than ours. For example, larger, more massive worlds may have more habitable land, while retaining their warmth and atmosphere better. Meanwhile, those orbiting a different type of host star may survive longer, giving more life to thrive.
“We need to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life,” said lead author Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a geobiologist at Washington State University. “However, we must be careful not to get stuck looking for a second Earth, because there may be planets that may be more suitable for life than ours.”
Research does not guarantee that life exists in these worlds – it only leads us to the idea that biological life can arise and flourish on those planets with less difficulty than here.
“It is sometimes difficult to convey this principle of superinhabited planets because we think we have the best planet,” added Schulze-Makuch. “We have many complex and varied life forms, many of which can survive in extreme conditions. It’s good to adapt to life, but that doesn’t mean that we have the best. ”