Massive Exoplanets May Be More Earth-Like Than Thought: ‘Super-Earths’ Likely to Have Oceans, Continents

The idea of very Earth-like Super-Earths is quite exciting for writers of SF, even for those who subscribe to mundane science fiction. What would life look like under a much stronger gravity? Could these circumstances actually support a civilization similar to ours? Much stuff to think about.

After Big Bang

Massive terrestrial planets, called “super-Earths,” are known to be common in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Now a Northwestern University astrophysicist and a University of Chicago geophysicist report the odds of these planets having an Earth-like climate are much greater than previously thought.

Nicolas B. Cowan and Dorian Abbot’s new model challenges the conventional wisdom which says super-Earths actually would be very unlike Earth — each would be a waterworld, with its surface completely covered in water. They conclude that most tectonically active super-Earths — regardless of mass — store most of their water in the mantle and will have both oceans and exposed continents, enabling a stable climate such as Earth’s.

Cowan is a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), and Abbot is an assistant professor in geophysical sciences at UChicago.

“Are the surfaces of super-Earths totally dry or covered in water?”…

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