The search for exoplanets has traditionally centered on those similar to Earth (of a relatively proportionate size and mass with comparable temperatures and atmospheric compositions) but scientists are now “rethinking the kinds of planets that may be habitable” and looking toward a new class known as hycean planets. Beyond our solar system these planets, akin to “mini Neptunes,” are much bigger than Earth and are believed to be habitable—meaning the search for life elsewhere in the universe could yield results sooner rather than later. Hycean planets are “hot, ocean-covered and with hydrogen-rich atmospheres,” with temperatures reaching up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and are “basically water worlds,” says Dr Nikku Madhusudhan, the lead author on University of Cambridge’s research. Find out more at The Guardian.
Image courtesy of Amanda Smith/PA