In science class, you’ve probably learned that conditions on Earth are perfect for sustaining life. But your teacher may have been wrong.
When it comes to habitability, Earth actually ends up in an embarrassing 25th place in a ranking of known planets, according to research published in the magazine Astrobiology. Ending in front of our pale blue dot are two dozen so-called “super-habitable” exoplanets, resembling Earth but in potentially milder conditions – and scientists say they may be prime candidates in the search for alien life.
To find these 24 worlds, researchers at Washington State University conducted a survey of all known exoplanets to find those with conditions that seem even better than ours. For example, larger, more massive worlds may have a more habitable earth while retaining heat and their atmosphere better. Meanwhile, those orbiting a different type of host star may survive longer, giving life longer to thrive.
“We need to focus on some planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life,”
The study does not guarantee that life exists on these worlds, but rather that biological life may have an even easier time emerging and thriving there than here.
“It is sometimes difficult to convey this principle of the super-habitable planets because we think we have the best planet,” added Schulze-Makuch. “We have a large number of complex and diverse life forms and many that can survive in extreme environments. It’s nice to have an adaptable life, but that doesn’t mean we have the best of everything. “
READ MORE: Some planets may be better for Earth life [Washington State University]
More on exoplanets: NASA’s telescope idea could detect vegetation on distant exoplanets