The moons of planets with no parent star can include an atmosphere and maintain liquid water.
Astrophysicists of the LMU determined that such systems may harbor enough water to sustain life.
Liquid water is the elixir of life as we know it.
It led to the formation of life on Earth, and it is fundamental for the future of nearly all living systems of the planet.
That is one of the main reasons why scientists are persistently looking for evidence of water on other solid bodies in the UNiverse.
Up until recently, nobody has proven that there is liquid on planets other than ours.
However, there are some signs that some moons in the outer areas of the solar system – particularly Saturn’s Enceladus and three of Jupiter’s moons could possess subterranean oceans.
LMU Physicists Prof. Barbara Ercolano and Dr Tommaso Grassi, in cooperation with the University of Concepción in Chile, relied on mathematical models to analyze the atmosphere and gas-phase of the chemistry of a moon in orbit surrounding a free-floating planet.
Free-floating planets are planets that aren’t associated with stars.
The simulations led to the hypothesis that cosmic rays provide the chemical drive required to convert molecular hydrogen and carbon dioxide into water and other products.
The authors resorted to the tidal forces exerted by planets on their moons as heat sources to maintain the system stirred up.
Assuming that CO2 is more than 90% of the moon’s atmosphere led to the belief that the greenhouse effect would preserve a significant part of the heat generated on the moon.
Combined, the energy sources would keep water at an adequate temperature to remain liquid.