Chance of Finding Young Earth-Like Planets Higher Than Previously Thought

The team of researchers and undergraduate students studied these young Earth-like planets called magma ocean planets.  (Image: via   pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
The team of researchers and undergraduate students studied these young Earth-like planets called magma ocean planets. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Research from the University of Sheffield has found that the chance of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of formation is much higher than previously thought. The team studied groups of young stars in the Milky Way to see if these groups were typical compared to theories and previous observations in other star-forming regions in space, and to study if the populations of stars in these groups affected the likelihood of finding forming Earth-like planets.

The research, published in The Astrophysical Journal, found that there are more stars like our Sun than expected in these groups, which would increase the chances of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of formation. In their early stages of formation, these Earth-like planets, called magma ocean planets, are still being made from collisions with rocks and smaller planets, which causes them to heat up so much that their surfaces become molten rock.

The findings from the research will help further understanding of whether star formation is universal and will be an important resource for studying how rocky, habitable planets like Earth form. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The findings from the research will help further understanding of whether star formation is universal and will be an important resource for studying how rocky, habitable planets like Earth form. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The team, led by Dr. Richard Parker, included undergraduate students from the University of Sheffield giving them the opportunity to apply the skills learned on their course to leading published research in their field. Dr. Richard Parker, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said:

The team studied groups of young stars in the Milky Way to see if these groups were typical compared to theories and previous observations in other star-forming regions in space, and to study if the populations of stars in these groups affected the likelihood of finding forming Earth-like planets. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The team studied groups of young stars in the Milky Way to see if these groups were typical compared to theories and previous observations in other star-forming regions in space, and to study if the populations of stars in these groups affected the likelihood of finding forming Earth-like planets. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The findings from the research will help further understanding of whether star formation is universal and will be an important resource for studying how rocky, habitable planets like Earth form. The team now hopes to use computer simulations to explain the origin of these young moving groups of stars. The research team included undergraduate students Amy Bottrill, Molly Haigh, Madeleine Hole, and Sarah Theakston from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The team said:

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sheffield explores the fundamental laws of the universe and develops pioneering technologies with real-world applications. Researchers are looking beyond our planet to map out distant galaxies, tackling global challenges including energy security, and exploring the opportunities presented by quantum computing and 2D materials.

Provided by: University of Sheffield [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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