The quest for habitable planets other than Earth has kept scientists busy for a long time. And according to findings from this new study, they might have struck gold.
In a study led by Washington State University9WSU) geobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, two dozen exoplanets have been identified (planets that exist outside our solar system) that are "super habitable" for living beings. This, however, does not mean that these planets have a life on them but only that they have the necessary conditions that can sustain life.
The findings from this study have been published in the >journal Astrobiology.
For the search, the researchers that some criteria that the planets needed to check. They looked among the 4,500 known exoplanets and shortlisted those that range from anywhere between five billion years and eight billion years old. These planets also needed to be located within their star's habitable zone so that water is available in its liquid state and their stars should be older and colder than our Sun.
As per a statement given out by WSU, the team did not go looking for worlds similar to Earth but planets that are "older, a little larger, slightly warmer and possibly wetter than Earth". This was because life could easily thrive on planets that circle more slowly changing stars with longer lifespans than our Sun. such parameters have created some problems as well. All the 24 exoplanets are located over 100 light-years away. However, Schulze-Makuch said this study will help future telescopes set targets easily.
"We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours," he said.
He teamed up with astronomers RenÃ© Heller of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and Edward Guinan of Villanova University for the recent study.