The oldest exoplanets are 5 billion years older than Earth – GEO

The universe is full of secrets. New research published in the September issue of the American Astronomical Society’s Research Notes journal suggests that a number of exoplanets at the edges of our galaxy may have formed continents over time.

In this way, they would have advanced life five billion years earlier than Earth, reports Live Science on Thursday, November 9th. In other words, this means that there could be multiple worlds within the Milky Way. The latter would potentially harbor much more advanced alien life than ours…

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Conditions for the flourishing and continued existence of life

A planet must have a certain number of properties to support life: something that protects organisms from dangerous radiation or water in liquid form, astrobiologists explain.

On the other hand, although large continental masses – in the strict sense of the word – are not necessary for the emergence of living things, the history of the Earth proves that they are no less important if life is to thrive and persist for long periods of time.

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In this way, it means that if an exoplanet had experienced the formation of continents before the blue planet, life could exist that is much older and more advanced than what our world hosts, the science news site continues.

It was this hypothesis that led Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University (UK), to wonder when the first continents appeared on one of the planets that make up our galaxy.

His work shows that the continents of two exoplanets – and perhaps life – could have formed four to five billion years before Earth’s.

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Potentially habitable planets

Plate tectonics is responsible for the formation of continents. More specifically, it is the movement of rock plates floating on the molten innards of a planet. You should know that the heat of the planet’s core prevents this magma from hardening and stopping the movement of the continents. Radioactive elements (such as thorium-232, uranium-238 and potassium-40) cause this heat. They are present in the core of the planet and release energy as they decompose.

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In the conclusions of her work, Jane Greaves examined in detail the concentrations of potassium and uranium 238 in nearby stars, but also the ages of the stars that the Gaia satellite measured. This data allowed him to estimate when a possible rocky planet (located around each of the stars) would have become hot enough to support plate tectonics.

However, according to the elements mentioned by this scientist, the first continents would have formed around stars close to the Sun up to 2 billion years before the tectonics of the Earth’s plates began. In her opinion, two stars stand out from the others. They are located 70 and 110 light-years away from us, respectively, and could have seen continents forming 5 billion years earlier than Earth.

Determining which planets are potentially habitable is a task for NASA.

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