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Jul 16

Where can we find planets that may host life?

Where can we find planets that may host life?
Life is perhaps the biggest mystery in the Universe: how life was born and how widespread is it in the Universe? Are threre any other inhabited planets in our galaxy? Currently, we don’t know; many researchers are convinced there are many other planets hosting life.

On the other side, others are convinced that life is rare and we may even be the sole inhabitants of this universe! Meanwhile, the astronomers are seeking Earth-like planets. But what criteria should be met for a planet to host life?
We, the humans, have discovered the structure of atoms; moreover, we have discovered tiny particles, such as neutrinos, which are haunting within the universe, ranging from one type of neutrino into another.

We are measuring neutrinos coming from the sun and distant stars. Complex and fascinating phenomena! We even found the Higgs boson – which explains us how the mass arose in the Universe. We are seeking matter and dark energy, but we don’t know if we’re alone in the Universe.

The origin of life on Earth is a mystery we are trying to decipher. One of the questions we ask ourselves, not just scientists, but each of those who look at the stars on a clear night, is linked to how widespread life is to this immense universe.

Perhaps another creature on a distant planet is looking at the stars exactly exactly when we look at them, asking itself the same question: are we alone in the Universe?

The question is as fascinating as it is complicated, given that at present we do not have clear and irrefutable signs of the existence of other beings in the Universe.

However, we seek them! We are seeking Earth-like planets. With the new technologies and telescopes installed on satellites, we were able to find more than a thousand planets outside the solar system.

Most of them are much larger than Earth, but few of them are Earth-like. One of these planets, Kepler-452B, newly discovered, orbits a star at a distance that theoretically would allow it to host life: that is, holding liquid water.

But is there atmosphere on this planet? Is its structure similar to Earth? We don’t know for now, as the the technology is not advanced enough to determine the existence of an atmosphere or the mass of this planet.

Hence we do not know Kepler-452b’s density and we don’t know if its structure is similar to Earth. In the future, as technology will evolve, we’ll be provided with more useful information.

By some calculations, scientists have established some criteria, enabling us to say whether a planet is more likely to host life. Thus it was concluded that the most favorable region is located between 13,000 and 32,000 light-years away from the center of our galaxy (the region where are in, with the solar system).

In this region, there are chemical elements that would allow the formation of a planet having a geological activity and an atmosphere. In addition, the stellar density isn’t dangerously high, so it’s less likely that a supernova could destroy the potentially habitable planets.

Recently, in an article published by Pratika Dayal, Charles Cockell, Ken Rice and Anupam Mazumdar in „The Astrophysical Journal”, researchers have answered the question: in which galaxies life is most likely to develop? Which galaxies in the Universe are most likely to be able to sustain life? Interestingly, the answer is not Milky Way-like galaxies. On the contrary! In the giant elliptical galaxies there could be 10,000 more Earth-like planets than in our own galaxy!

At present, we do not have enough information to give an exact answer to the question: are there any other inhabited planets? In the future we’ll know better the planets close to our own (located in a region that is a few hundred light-years away from us) and we may find something interesting! Of course, in the meantime, other inhabitants of distant planets might discover us.

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One Comment

  1. Kri says:

    Earth…..a potentially habitable planet.

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