More planets could harbour life

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Image uploaded from a quicklink New computer models suggest there could be many more habitable planets out there than previously thought. Scientists have developed models to help them identify planets in far-away solar systems that are capable of supporting life. Estimates of habitable planet numbers have been based on the likelihood of them having surface water. But a new model allows scientists to identify planets with underground water kept liquid by planetary heat. Planets can receive two sources of heat - heat direct from the star and heat generated deep inside the 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. Immense quantities of water in fact - teeming with primitive life. According to Mr McMahon, "There will be several times more [habitable] planets".

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