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Higher Gravity Retains Atmosphere

Super-Earths are, by definition, heavier than our own planet. This gives them a larger gravity, which is useful for the purpose of retaining an atmosphere. Because Super-Earths can retain more atmosphere, they may be better able to protect their life and allow it to grow and evolve. As we have previously discussed, a planetary atmosphere is useful for protecting life from extremes of temperature and from dangerous radiation.

The simulation below allows you to adjust the mass and atmospheric temperature of a planet. You can see the effects on the planet's escape velocity - the speed at which an object (like a molecule of gas) must move in order to escape the planet's gravitational pull. The Earth's radius is marked on the graph. The mass slider starts at Earth's mass, and the temperature starts at a warm day on Earth.

You can see on the graph that some gases will escape at high temperatures, while others will be trapped, with their velocities too low to escape. The heavier the gas, the more likely it is to be retained.

Солнечная система и ее тайны