Two dozen potentially ‘superhabitable’ exoplanets that may have conditions more suitable for life than earth have been identified by researchers.
A team from Washington State University led by Dirk Schulze-Makuch have described the characteristics of these planets are older, a little large, slightly warmer and possibly wetter than our own.
They say that life could also more easily thrive on planets that circle slowly changing stars with longer lifespans than our own.
At present there are 24 contenders for the title of ‘superhabitable’, all of which are more than 100 light years away.
Professor Schulze-Makuch said: “With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets.
“We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.”
The team focused on the 4,500 currently known exoplanets beyond our solar system in their hunt for superhabitable candidates.
None of the 24 top planet candidates meet all the requirements to be classed as superhabitable, but one had four of the critical characteristics which could make it more comfortable for life than earth.
“It’s sometimes difficult to convey this principle of superhabitable planets because we think we have the best planet,” added Prof Schulze-Makuch.
“We have a great number of complex and diverse lifeforms, and many that can survive in extreme environments. It is good to have adaptable life, but that doesn’t mean that we have the best of everything.”