Life On Exoplanets Is Possible Only Under Strong, Earth-like Magnetic Fields

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It is common knowledge that Earth has a magnetic field, believed to be generated deep down in the Earth’s core. Scientists from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics discovered that nearly all planets from other solar systems, the so-called exoplanets, don’t have strong, Earth-like magnetic fields.

Earth’s magnetic field acts like a shield that protects our planet from space radiation and solar storms. Every time Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) appear in the sky, it means that Earth’s magnetic field is hit by solar winds, which could cause serious harm to any existing life in case it would reach our planet’s surface.

That could cause a lot of problems in case humans would want to inhabit exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System), primarily because strong magnetic fields maintain liquid water on the surface of the planet.

Earth-like magnetic fields are essential for life on exoplanets to exist

“Magnetic fields appear to play an essential role in making planets habitable, so I wanted to find out how Earth’s magnetic field compared to those of other potentially habitable planets,” stated the Ph.D. scholar Sarah McIntyre. According to her study, not even planets in our Solar System, such as Venus or Mars have strong magnetic fields. “Venus and Mars have negligible magnetic fields and do not support life,” she added.

Scientists decided to model the magnetic fields of exoplanets to see if there is a possibility for them to harbor life. “Strong magnetic fields could protect and preserve a wet surface in a way that weak fields cannot,” Associate Professor Lineweaver said.

The question is if humans will ever be able to find habitable planets trillions of kilometers away from our world. “Finding and characterizing exoplanets most likely to be wet and temperate will require ambitious yet feasible space missions,” co-researcher Associate Professor Michael Ireland concluded.


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