Large planets have stiff outer shells, simulations suggest
Plate tectonics doesn’t rumple the surfaces of Earth’s supersized cousins, new research suggests.
Simulating the extreme pressures inside giant exoplanets called super-Earths, researchers discovered that these planets probably have thick, stagnant outer shells and sluggish internal circulation. Those properties make the existence of fragmented jigsaw puzzles of sliding and shifting surface sections unlikely, the researchers report in a paper to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
On Earth, plate tectonics drives the carbon cycle that helps regulate the planet’s temperature and allows life to flourish, notes study coauthor Takehiro Miyagoshi, an earth and planetary scientist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokohama.