Royal Astronomical Society | 2017 Apr 20
When it comes to exploring exoplanets, it may be wise to take a snorkel along. A new study, published in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has used a statistical model to predict that most habitable planets may be dominated by oceans spanning over 90% of their surface area.
The author of the study, Dr. Fergus Simpson of the Institute of Cosmos Sciences at the University of Barcelona, has constructed a statistical model -- based on Bayesian probability -- to predict the division between land and water on habitable exoplanets.
For a planetary surface to boast extensive areas of both land and water, a delicate balance must be struck between the volume of water it retains over time, and how much space it has to store it in its oceanic basins. Both of these quantities may vary substantially across the full spectrum of water-bearing worlds, and why the Earth’s values are so well balanced is an unresolved and long-standing conundrum.
Simpson’s model predicts that most habitable planets are dominated by oceans spanning over 90% of their surface area. This conclusion is reached because the Earth itself is very close to being a so-called ‘waterworld’ -- a world where all land is immersed under a single ocean. ...
The Earth Has Oceans And Continents: How Weird Is That?
National Public Radio (NPR) | 2017 Mar 07
Bayesian Evidence for the Prevalence of Waterworlds - Fergus Simpson