Super-Earths are not a good place for plate tectonics | Science News

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Super-Earths are not a good place for plate tectonics

Large planets have stiff outer shells, simulations suggest

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2:12pm, June 26, 2015
Kepler-62f

JUMBO-SIZE PLANET  Big rocky super-Earths such as Kepler-62f, shown in this illustration, probably don’t have active plate tectonics, new research suggests. 

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.

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