Our search for E.T.s—intelligent or otherwise—just hit an asteroid.
Distant moons and planets were once thought to go through phases when they were overflowing with water after their young, dim stars heated up and melted their icy surfaces. However, a team of scientists who recently published a study in Nature Geoscience now believe that Earth is an anomaly when it comes to producing the liquid H2O necessary to keep life as we know it flourishing. Emphasis on life as we know it.
Theoretically, if these worlds orbit their stars at just the right distance (aka the “Goldilocks zone”), they should unfreeze into habitable worlds—but many of them never will become habitable.
Using climate models to simulate how frozen planets evolve as their stars go through phases, the team determined that even the most glacial orb would go from snowball to fireball without the atmospheric greenhouse gases found exclusively on Earth. The immense energy needed to melt so much ice would continue to vaporize the water that is so integral to the survival of life forms on our planet (and similar ones if they exist out there). This is why it’s unlikely any future generations will be colonizing Europa or Enceladus, which will become great balls of fire in the killer radiation of a dying sun.