The Universe Is Becoming Increasingly More Habitable

Image Credit: Jake Weirick

When humans think of aliens, they often imagine highly advanced civilizations that have been around much longer than our own, and that have had the opportunity to explore the cosmos using technologies far beyond our wildest imagination.

At face value, the timeline of the universe seems to support this notion. After all, the universe is 13.8 billion years old, while the Earth is comparatively a baby at 4.5 billion years of age. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that other older planets probably developed life sooner than we did; however, a new study conducted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics indicates that’s likely not true.

In fact, the study seems to suggest that in all likelihood we humans might end up being one of the very same advanced ancient civilization that other future alien civilizations might eventually try discovering. According to the report published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics on August 1st, the chances of life developing right now across the universe is much greater than it was when life first began on Earth. Similarly, the chances of life developing on distant planets in the future is predicted to be at least 1,000 times greater than they are at this very moment.

According to the study, the universe is gradually becoming more favorable for life to develop, with the primary reason for this being that the number of large dying stars emitting high levels of radiation throughout the universe is continuing to decline. The Harvard-Smithsonian team focused their study primarily on red dwarfs, a category of stars that could potentially provide just the right conditions for life to develop on orbiting planets as they have a lower mass than our yellow dwarf sun. In fact, red dwarfs that have 10 percent less mass than our sun have the potential to produce light and heat for up to 10 trillion years, thus allowing ample time for life to emerge.

Based on the information that the scientists gathered, it’s now possible to speculate that life on Earth developed prematurely. The study does not present a hypothesis about why this could have happened exactly, but somehow, Earth-based life managed to emerge in conditions that were far less hospitable than the present ones.

While the potential for life to develop on planets orbiting red dwarf stars is there, we don’t know enough about the celestial bodies to be certain that they are conducive to life. The stars are known to cause sudden flares and to produce high levels of ultraviolet radiation during their early life stages. It could be that these events damage atmospheres on planets and eliminate the possibility of life ever occurring.

The results of the study are intriguing, but more research is needed to fully understand the ramifications of their findings. Exploration of space around red dwarfs could provide more clues about whether or not we may ever end up with neighbors in the universe.

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