The atmospheres of the planets of the solar system and in distant galaxies are radically different from the terrestrial one. Liquid methane, hydrochloric acid or something else may drip from the sky, but raindrops in all worlds will be roughly similar, new research suggests. This will help predict climatic changes in the atmospheres of the planets of our system and in the atmospheres of exoplanets, and, ultimately, may bring some clarity to the assessment of the habitability of other worlds.
The study, which scientists described in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, was conducted at Harvard University. Scientists have modeled the behavior of raindrops as they pass through the atmospheres of planets and moons of various sizes, temperatures and compositions. It turned out that the maximum droplet size does not differ much from world to world.
In simulating an alien atmosphere, the largest droplets were formed in the atmosphere of Titan (Saturn’s moon). On Titan, liquid methane rains from the sky and collects in methane rivers, lakes and seas. The raindrops on Titan were as wide as three centimeters, which is about three times the maximum size of raindrops on Earth (1.1 cm).
“Raindrops of different compositions can have a fairly small range of stable sizes; all of them are fundamentally limited to approximately the same maximum size “, – said lead author of the study, graduate student of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Kaitlyn Loftus (Kaitlyn Loftus). For rocky planets, raindrops, in order to reach the surface of planets, must have a radius of 0.1 mm to several millimeters, regardless of what they are formed from, the researchers explain.
“The knowledge we gain from thinking about raindrops and clouds in different environments is the key to understanding the habitability of exoplanets, – scientists say. “In the long term, they can also help us better understand the climate of the Earth itself.”
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