Astrobiology | 2019

Diving into Exoplanets: Are Water Seas the Most Common?



One of the basic tenets of exobiology is the need for a liquid substratum in which life can arise, evolve, and develop. The most common version of this idea involves the necessity of water to act as such a substratum, both because that is the case on Earth and because it seems to be the most viable liquid for chemical reactions that lead to life. Other liquid media that could harbor life, however, have occasionally been put forth. In this work, we investigate the relative probability of finding superficial seas on rocky worlds that could be composed of nine different, potentially abundant, liquids, including water. We study the phase space size of habitable zones defined for those substances. The regions where there can be liquid around every type of star are calculated by using a simple model, excluding areas within a tidal locking distance. We combine the size of these regions with the stellar abundances in the Milky Way disk and modulate our result with the expected radial abundance of planets via a generalized Titius-Bode law, as statistics of exoplanet orbits seem to point to its adequateness. We conclude that seas of ethane may be up to nine times more frequent among exoplanets than seas of water, and that solvents other than water may play a significant role in the search for extrasolar seas.

Volume 19 5
Pages \n 642-654\n
DOI 10.1089/ast.2017.1720
Language English
Journal Astrobiology

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