ASU Nexus for Exoplanet System Science

Snowball Exoplanets Can Still Be Habitable

A Snowball Earth frozen over with pockets of liquid water. (Credit: Stocktrek Images, Inc. / Alamy)

650 million years ago, the Earth’s water completely froze over-an event known as a snowball earth. Such extreme conditions should have wiped out life, but there is a clear continuity of microbes from before and after this event. How? Adiv Paradise, a graduate student from the University of Toronto, and his colleagues have an idea. Using a model with variable starlight and greenhouse gas output from volcanoes, they found that some snowball earths still have large pockets of dry, arid land, like the cold deserts of Antarctica, and can still have some regions where liquid water can flow, creating local hydrological cylces. This gives hope for observations of exoplanets, as snowball exoplanets may still be habitable.

More information can be found here.


Leave a reply

©2015 Arizona State University

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?