Carbon Copy Studies
How much carbon can exist on a planet to sustain life? Two studies led by the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota looked at carbon in the early formation of our planet.
Credit: National Science Foundation
Carbon copy studies
Hi, I'm Mo with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
How much carbon can exist on a planet to sustain life?
If we had too much carbon, the atmosphere would be hot like Venus! Where temperatures reach over eight hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
Too little carbon, and the earth would resemble mars, inhospitable, with temperatures near minus sixty degrees.
Two studies led by the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota looked at carbon in the early formation of our planet.
The first found that when our planet was formed, carbon was likely delivered from interstellar medium, that's the material that exists in space between stars in a galaxy.
They also found that carbon likely makes up less than half a percent of earth's mass. In the second study, they looked at how carbon is processed and retained during a planets early formation.
By examining the metallic cores of these growing bodies they found that during this phase of growth, most of the carbon is lost as the growing planets melt, form cores, and lose gas.
The studies describe two aspects of carbon loss and amazingly suggest these may be among the main reasons why life exists on earth.
Researchers wonder if these findings could be used to examine carbon loss in planetary systems in other galaxies far, far away?
That work would take an empire.
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