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November 25 2012
Planets beyond the solar system that are bigger than Earth but smaller than gas giants like Neptune could have oceans of liquid metal and life-protecting magnetic shields.
Under the heat and pressure that exist inside super-Earths, magnesium oxide and other minerals commonly found in the rocky mantles of the terrestrial planets, transform into liquid metals, laboratory tests show.
The research has implications for understanding conditions on super-Earths, including whether they might be favorable for supporting life.
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