Crowded universe? 在其它星球上的生命

更新時間 2012年 10月 29日, 星期一 - 格林尼治標準時間11:46

Vocabulary: science 詞匯:科學

The arctic landscape

Even if the surface has ice, there could be liquid water and living organisms underneath.

We might not be alone in the universe. Actually, it may be confirmed as a very crowded place by new computer models developed to help identify habitable planets.

Estimates of places that can sustain life have been based on the likelihood of them having surface water. But software recently developed by the Aberdeen University allows researchers to identify planets with underground water kept liquid by planetary heat.

Water is fundamental for life and planets too close to the sun lose water to the atmosphere through evaporation. On the other hand, planets located in distant reaches from their star have their surface water locked away as ice.

Sean McMahon, who is carrying out the work, explained: "Traditionally people have said that if a planet is in this Goldilocks zone - not too hot and not too cold - then it can have liquid water on its surface and be habitable."

But this perception might change when considering that planets can receive two sources of heat - heat direct from the star and heat generated deep inside the planet.

It is easy to observe it in our own planet. As you descend through the crust of the Earth, the temperature gets higher and higher. Even when the surface is frozen, water can exist below ground.

There could be immense quantities of water in fact - teeming with primitive life.

Professor John Parnell, also from Aberdeen University said: "There is a significant habitat for microorganisms below the surface of the Earth, extending down several kilometres".

"And some believe that the bulk of life on Earth could even reside in this deep biosphere."

So the Aberdeen team are developing models to predict which far-flung planets might harbour underground reservoirs of liquid water with the possibility of alien life.

Quiz 測驗

What sign suggests to scientists that a planet can sustain life?

The existence of water.

Where might the heat in a planet come from?

The heat can come directly from its star or be generated deep inside the planet.

Is the following statement true, false or not given? Even at high temperatures there is plenty of life deep below the surface of the Earth.


What phrasal verb in the article means to put something in a place from where it cannot be removed easily?

To lock away

What word is used to refer to beings that are very small?


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