Habitable Zones & Global Climate: June 2022

Cold super-Earths which retain their primordial, H-He dominated atmosphere could have surfaces that are warm enough to host liquid water. This would be due to the collision induced absorption (CIA) of infra-red light by hydrogen, which increases with pressure.

Liquid water is an important prerequisite for life to develop on a planet. As researchers from the University of Bern, the University of Zurich and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS report in a new study, liquid water could also exist for billions of years on planets that are very different from Earth. This calls our currently Earth-centred idea of potentially habitable planets into question.

While wildfires over recent years have raged across much of the western United States and pose significant hazards to wildlife and local populations, wildfires have been a long-standing part of Earth's systems without the influence of humans for hundreds of millions of years.