They're called Hycean planets
which are up to 2.5 times larger than Earth and feature huge oceans of liquid water beneath hydrogen-rich atmospheres. Hycean planets appear to be incredibly abundant throughout the Milky Way galaxy, and they could host microbial life similar to the "extremophiles" that thrive in some of Earth's harshest environments, study team members said.
There's a whole lot of strange and weird planets out there.
In my own private model of the universe, life is everywhere.
We already know about bacteria right here on Earth that feast on nuclear reactors and take a sauna in active volcanoes. Tardigrades, the "water bears", can survive unprotected in outer space.
Life's tougher than you ever imagined. Smarter, too.
There could be life hanging out on moons of lightless brown dwarf planets.
Life on Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's Enceladus.
Maybe something lurking around in all the comets out in the Oort Cloud. If the robotic probes sent by the aliens aren't already out there mining volatiles and listening to the rocky worlds closer to the local star.
Might even be exotic stuff living in stars... in the energy-rich hotspots around black holes... out in the dark matter clouds between the visible galaxies.
The possibilities for weird and unique ecologies taking hold in these environments ought to stretch the minds of any sci-fi -- or horror -- writer.
Life in the oceans of Hycean worlds locked into a tidal zone around a red dwarf sounds tame by comparison.
These worlds could have a habitable zone on the far side from the star where life-supporting temperatures might be found.
If we don't stay locked into a human point of view, we can imagine all kinds of critters out there doing their thing.
What would they be like? It's hard to imagine a technological species taking hold on a water world with no land surface.
But don't get too cocky. If there's one thing you can count on, it's nature and mind finding away around obstacles.
Imagination and ingenuity have a way of working around expert opinion.
Here's one reason to pay attention to the science.
Not because I want to be "accurate". Forget that. What's accurate changes every time you hit "refresh". Every new paper changes "the facts".
You ought to pay attention to stuff like this so that you can ask better "what if?" questions.
What if there were living beings on these worlds? What would that be like?
Those questions get the creative wheels turning. Start from there and see where imagination takes you.
Astronomy and cosmology are overflowing with story ideas.
Where do I get my ideas? From paying attention.
By the way – If you liked this article, you'll get to read all the member-only posts if you join us.
Want to leave a comment? You'll need to join us on the inside with a bonus perk for members.
You get to be a part of the private rogue planet community. Leave your thoughts and hang out with other SFF Heretics on the inside, away from the screaming mess of Twitter and the privacy-thieving jumble of Facebook.
There's no charge (yet) to become a member, so click here and join now.