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Life-sustaining planets in interstellar space?

Stevenson, David J. (1999) Life-sustaining planets in interstellar space? Nature, 400 (6739). p. 32. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/21811.

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During planet formation, rock and ice embryos of the order of Earth's mass may be formed, some of which may be ejected from the Solar System as they scatter gravitationally from proto-giant planets. These bodies can retain atmospheres rich in molecular hydrogen which, upon cooling, can have basal pressures of 10^2 to 10^4 bars. Pressure-induced far-infrared opacity of H_2 may prevent these bodies from eliminating internal radioactive heat except by developing an extensive adiabatic (with no loss or gain of heat) convective atmosphere. This means that, although the effective temperature of the body is around 30 K, its surface temperature can exceed the melting point of water. Such bodies may therefore have water oceans whose surface pressure and temperature are like those found at the base of Earth's oceans. Such potential homes for life will be difficult to detect.

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Stevenson, David J.0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 1999 Macmillan Magazines Ltd. Published 1 July 1999.
Issue or Number:6739
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131120-152730281
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:42600
Deposited On:21 Nov 2013 16:21
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:25

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