Έρευνα: Ένας στους τρεις εξωπλανήτες έχουν νερό και ενδέχεται να υπάρχει ζωή

εξωπλανήτες
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Υπάρχει ζωή, εκτός από τη Γη, στο αχανές Διάστημα; Και αν υπάρχει, πώς θα είναι; Οι εξωγήινοι θα μοιάζουν με τον άνθρωπο ή θα έχουν άλλες μορφές, ενδεχομένως πέρα από κάθε φαντασία; Θα είναι εξελιγμένοι και κατά πόσο; Χιλιάδες αναπάντητα ερωτήματα ζητούν απαντήσεις από την επιστημονική κοινότητα, η οποία δίνει κάθε μέρα τη μάχη της γνώσης, με βασικό αντίπαλο τον χρόνο. Η βάση της ζωής ωστόσο, είναι, όπως φαίνεται, μία. Το νερό. Εφόσον ισχύει ο βασικός αυτός κανόνας και σε άλλες «γειτονιές» του Σύμπαντος, η τελευταία έρευνα που δημοσιεύτηκε μετά από συγκέντρωση ικανού όγκου στοιχείων, οι πιθανότητες να υπάρχει ζωή και εκτός Γης είναι κάτι παραπάνω από σημαντικές. Σύμφωνα με την έρευνα, ένας στους τρεις εξωπλανήτες έχει νερό και ενδέχεται να φιλοξενεί προηγμένες μορφές ζωής.

Σύμφωνα με την έκθεση που δημοσίευσαν οι επιστήμονες, ο ένας στους τρεις εξωπλανήτες που έχει μέγεθος από δύο έως τέσσερις φορές μεγαλύτερο από τη Γη, έχει νερό. Και όπου υπάρχει νερό, είναι πιθανόν να έχει αναπτυχθεί ζωή.

Τα στοιχεία που ανέλυσαν οι επιστήμονες προέρχονται από το τηλεσκόπιο Κέπλερ και από την αποστολή Γαία. Σύμφωνα με τον Dr Li Zeng του Πανεπιστημίου Χάρβαρντ, το αποτέλεσμα της έρευνας ήταν μεγάλη έκπληξη για όλους, καθώς είναι εντυπωσιακό το ποσοστό των πλανητών που έχουν νερό.

Μέχρι στιγμής έχουν επιβεβαιωθεί τουλάχιστον 4.000 εξωπλανήτες διαφόρων μεγεθών, που ανήκουν σε δύο κατηγορίες.

Ο Dr Zeng δήλωσε ότι: «Εξετάσαμε πώς η μάζα σχετίζεται με την ακτίνα, και αναπτύξαμε ένα μοντέλο που θα μπορούσε να εξηγήσει τη σχέση. Το μοντέλο δείχνει ότι οι μικρότεροι πλανήτες τείνουν να είναι βραχώδεις πλανήτες – με τυπικά πενταπλάσια μάζα από τη Γη. Οι μεγαλύτεροι έχουν περίπου 10 φορές περισσότερη μάζα – και είναι πιθανότατα κόσμοι νερού».

Παρουσιάζοντας τα ευρήματα στο συνέδριο Goldschmidt στη Βοστώνη, εξήγησε: «Πρόκειται για νερό. Η θερμοκρασία της επιφάνειας τους κυμαίνεται μεταξύ 200 και 500 βαθμών Κελσίου. Η επιφάνειά τους μπορεί να περιβληθεί σε μια ατμόσφαιρα που κυριαρχείται από υδρατμούς, με μια υγρή στρώση νερού κάτω».

Η ανακάλυψη εξωπλανήτων το 1992 σε τροχιά γύρω από άλλα αστέρια έχει προκαλέσει ενδιαφέρον για την κατανόηση της σύνθεσης αυτών των πλανητών για να καθορίσει, μεταξύ άλλων στόχων, αν είναι κατάλληλα για την ανάπτυξη της ζωής.

Ο Δρ Ζενγκ δήλωσε: «Τα δεδομένα μας δείχνουν ότι περίπου το 35 τοις εκατό όλων των γνωστών εξωπλανήτων που είναι μεγαλύτεροι από ότι η Γη πρέπει να είναι πλούσια σε νερό. Αυτοί οι υδάτινοι κόσμοι πιθανότατα σχηματίστηκαν με παρόμοιο τρόπο με τους γιγαντιαίους πυρήνες του πλανήτη – Δία, Κρόνος, Ουρανός, Ποσειδώνα – που βρίσκουμε στο δικό μας ηλιακό σύστημα. Η νεοσύστατη αποστολή TESS θα βρει πολλά περισσότερα από αυτά, με τη βοήθεια φασματοσκοπικής παρακολούθησης εδάφους. Το διαστημικό τηλεσκόπιο επόμενης γενιάς, το διαστημικό τηλεσκόπιο James Webb, ελπίζουμε να μας δώσει περισσότερα στοιχεία για την ατμόσφαιρα κάποιων από αυτά. Αυτή είναι μια συναρπαστική στιγμή για όσους ενδιαφέρονται για αυτούς τους απομακρυσμένους κόσμους».

Πηγή: Protothema.gr

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