Tag Archives: Life in Outer Space

Potential Life-Sustaining Planets are Closer and Closer

SMACS 0723A galaxy cluster
Infrared light shows the deepest view of distant galaxies ever photographed. JWST Photo: NASA Public Domain

Overview 

The question of extraterrestrial life on other worlds has baffled even the foremost scientists for millennia. With the Hubble telescope and now, the James Webb telescope floating in the cosmos a million miles from Earth, we are finding more and more life-sustaining planets on a frequent virtual basis.

This is different from space observatories being able to determine the existence of exoplanets by spectrum analysis, calculating their gravitational pull from their sun, or by use of the transit methodan observational process whereby a star changes in brightness when a planet is seen orbiting around it. The JWST advanced technology surpassed those methods by actually taking pictures of these exoplanets. This is the first time this has ever been done! 

Exoplanets with Life? Maybe!

In 2013, a team of astronomers led by Dr. Duncan Wright from the University of New South Wales discovered the Wolf 1061 System, using the HARPS spectrograph, part of the European Southern Observatory’s telescope in La Salla in Chile. 

This solar system contains an inactive red dwarf star, orbited by possibly seven planets including three super-Earths. These planets may be capable of supporting life as we know it, as they have a low enough mass to be potentially rocky with a solid surface. 

The most interesting of the three planets is Wolf 1061c. At four times the size of the Earth, it is the closest habitable planet outside our solar system. It also sits in the Goldilocks Zone, close enough to its sun to contain liquid water and support life with its mild temperatures. 

Artist's impression of the planetary system around Wolf 1061
Artist’s impression of the planetary system around Wolf 1061. Photo: Wikipedia Public Domain

Even though rocky planets similar to our own and multi-planet systems are known to be abundant in our galaxy, most of the ones discovered are hundreds, if not thousands of light years away. They are too far for us to get to using current technology.

Still, with the hope of Wolf 1061c sitting right next door, scientists are now hopeful that they can test the planet’s atmosphere in more detail once it passes across the face of its star, making the not-so-lone Wolf planet easier to study and determine if it has the potential to sustain life.

Life is Out There

Illustration of an extraterrestrial
Photo: iStock

Here we list a sampling of just a few exoplanets that could sustain life. 

WASP-39 b

In 2022, the James Webb Telescope discovered a planet, called WASP-39 b in the Virgo constellation. Known as ‘Bocaprins’, the planet orbits a star about 700 light-years from Earth. Scientists were surprised to see that this planet’s atomic structure resembles water and carbon – two of the essential ingredients of universal life.

Kepler-186f

But that’s not all. Planets such as Kepler-186f are one of the planets that astronomers say have a very good chance of potential life, relative to the hundreds of other planets discovered outside of our solar system. Kepler-186f is the first exoplanet found to be in the habitable zone. Slightly larger than Earth, it is 490 light-years away. That’s not too far comparatively speaking.

Kepler-22b

Another close neighbor in the habitable zone is Kepler-22b. This body is about 150 light-years further away than Kepler-186 but has the promise of life just the same. It is about 15% closer to its sun than our Earth is to our sun, but its sun is smaller than ours, so there is a compensation effect where these two factors cancel each other out. 

Subsequently, it still provides the opportunity for the planet to remain in the habitable zone. Kepler-22b has a surface temperature of 72℉. This sounds like a good vacation spot when we get to that point of space travel. For Star Trek fans, you can envision the beautiful planets the crew visited when on shore leave. Well, not so fast.

Kepler-22b might be more on its axis than Earth, meaning half of the planet may have all sunlight 24×7 and the other half may be in complete darkness for every (of that) planet’s six months. Further study has revealed that the planet may be 90% ocean or more; thereby compensating for the seasonal issues. 

Additionally, Kepler-22b has been calculated to have a much stronger gravitational pull than our planet, so walking on this planet may be as hard as trying to walk briskly through water at the same speed that you would be walking on land. 

But if there are creatures on this planet, intelligent or not, natural evolution may cause these beings to look much different from us. Due to the planet’s strong gravitational pull, the aliens may have budging feet full of muscles that would make the strongest man in the world look like a stick figure. They may have more than just two or four legs. Additionally, their internal organs would have to be naturally engineered to handle the physical stresses of the planet’s strong gravity; such as an overly large heart.

The Day the Earth May Stand Still 

If Kepler-22b is life sustainable, it would take astronauts 635 years to get there. So since that is out of the question for us, but if there is intelligent life there or on other planets, their technology might provide a quicker way to come here and visit us. But is that what we would want?  

What Would Space Aliens Really Look Like?

Space Alein. AI Generated
Photo: Fotor

The Extraterrestrial Delima

Some say that we are the only intelligent life in the universe, but others tend to differ, and if you include the calculations in our article Life in Outer Space, a Mathematical Approach, there is a good probability that they are correct.

But we are probably the only planet that has species that look exactly like us. The aliens would have to live under the same environmental conditions that exist on this planet. If there is just a .001% difference on their planet as there is on Earth, our alien friends could look much different.

That’s because all living things on Earth have physically adapted to this planet’s environment; such as adapting to the atmosphere, which is 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, as well as adjusting to the planet’s range of temperatures and seasons. The result is that we are a species that consists of two ears, two eyes, two lungs, and a bunch of other organs that keep us alive through these earthly conditions.

So the chances are very high that there isn’t a planet exactly like Earth, but some exoplanets in the habitable zone might come pretty close. Instead of saying we may be the only intelligent life in outer space, it may be more prudent to say we may be the only intelligent life that looks like us in outer space.

An Exoplanet With a Slight Change

Illustration of an alien planet
Photo iStock

Suppose that there is a planet revolving around a star 100 light-years from Earth.  We’ll call this planet Exo, but on this planet, there is a slight change in its atmosphere, namely, its oxygen level is 90 percent nitrogen and 10 percent oxygen.

On Earth, it is 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen. So if aliens from Exo would happen to land on Earth, their lungs would need to be 11% larger than ours, in order to compensate for the lower oxygen level that their bodies are naturally accustomed to on their planet.

Now suppose that Exo is 20% further from its star than the Earth is from our sun (Earth is 93,000,000 miles away). That would mean that it would be 18.6 million miles further away from its star as compared to Earth’s proximity to our sun. Everything would be darker on Exo and cooler as well.

Our hypothetical species would require larger eyes than us to compensate for the lack of sunlight. Needless to say, their winters will be colder, so those living in a Siberian type of weather on Exo would have thicker skin than their counterparts on the warmer side of the planet (warmer relative to that planet’s environment, not ours).

Artists creation of extratresials
iStock

In this case, we would be looking at beings with larger chests, bulging eyes, and thick skin as compared to us. So they would need some type of protective gear or suits in order to compensate for the increased oxygen and lighter atmosphere. If they don’t have this protection, they would be consuming too much oxygen and risk having severe eye conditions, possibly even going blind if they are outside too long.

So when you see sci-fi movies that show extraterrestrial beings walking on our planet without some sort of protection, it would not be an accurate portrayal.

What About Gravity on Exo?

The amount of gravity would be determined by the size (mass) of the planet, so if Exo is 10% larger than Earth, then the creatures living there would probably have heavier and stronger legs. Their legs may bulge out more or they may be longer than what we humans would look like, or maybe they have three or four legs. Not a far thought since thousands of species on this planet also have four legs.

For a more in-depth look at how aliens may evolve, take a look at this video below.

Time is Everything

We have discussed how the physical characteristics of alien life might look on a habitable planet similar to life here on Earth. But what about their evolution process? Did it take the same amount of time for these aliens to evolve as we did? In other words, humanoid life on Earth has been estimated period and 200 million years ago, but does that mean that creatures on other planets began their evolution process within the same time period as we did?

What Year Is It?

We first have to consider that a year on Exo would probably be different than our years. If Exo is 10% further away from its sun, then it will take longer for the planet to revolve around it, a 365-day revolution (if days are the same there) won’t work. We estimate that it takes 400 Exo days for it to complete one of its years.

Are We the Most Intelligent of All Species in the Universe? Watch What You Say!

The above scenario is based upon a similar period it would take for beings like us to evolve on a different planet. Chances are that this would not be the case.

What if Exo was formed 500 thousand years later than it did on Earth? Well, that would mean that they would have evolved only to what we could equate to Neanderthals. Now that type of communication doesn’t look promising.

But what hat if Exo was formed 500 thousand years earlier than here on Earth?  That would mean that Exo’s inhabitants would have hundreds of thousands of years more time to evolve than we humans have on this planet.

If their evolution started that much earlier then we could conclude that they are mentally superior to us. If that is the case and they do (or some believe that they have already) come to Earth, will they be friendly?

We Come in Peace, Maybe.

Scientists are contemplating a new communication with ET via signals to be sent from huge telescopes here on Earth. It will be called the Beacon in the Galaxy and will contain mathematical,  physical, and biological representations of earthlings, as well as our location in the Milky Way galaxy. But if aliens do find this and they equate to the scenario of advancement over us, is this a smart move? Only time will tell!

Life in Outer Space and the UFO Phonenomena

Milky Way Galaxy
Photo by Arnaud Mariat on Unsplash

Is There Really Intelligent Life Out There?

One of our previous articles discussed the minerals of Star Trek, giving rise to the hope that there is extraterrestrial life out there, but the honest discussion about ET’s existence is a loaded subject. 

For this article, we are going to focus on the probability of whether life exists in outer space; in other words, what are the odds that there really is intelligent life on other planets?

As difficult as it is to wrap our heads around the sun’s fusion process, which is equivalent to 100 billion atomic bombs per second, we will go one step further and try to understand the immense size of our universe, and then look at the formulas that scientists have developed to determine ET’s existence.

2023 Update on Extraterrestrial Life

It was already known that one of Saturn’s moons – Enceladus has oceans, but its Cassini spacecraft just recently found that its oceans contain the element phosphorus, which is a key chemical element in the building blocks of life.

This brings us one step closed to finding out if life exists right in our own backyard.

But what about intelligent life?

So What Are the Odds?

It is estimated that there is an average of 1 – 2 billion stars in any recorded galaxy and there are over 2 trillion galaxies out there. If 10% of each galaxy contains a solar system, that is, it contains a star that has planets revolving around it, then we can estimate that each galaxy has between 100 – 200 million solar systems, with some that may be fairly similar to ours.

Outer Space Ailen
Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

If 1% of the stars in each solar system have a planet just distant enough from their sun where life could evolve, called the habitable zone or as some scientists call it, the Goldilocks Zone, we could have 1 – 2 million possible planets that could contain life.

Going further, if 1% of these planets have the right ‘ingredients’ to build intelligent life, then there is the possibility that there may exist 10,000 stars that could have planets with intelligent life in each galaxy.

Just to be more realistic, we can cut the odds even further and take 10% of this result, which would equate to the possibility of 1,000 stars with extraterrestrial life in each galaxy.

That would mean that there could be 1,000 x 2 trillion galaxies = 2,000,000,000,000,000 (2 quadrillion) planets with intelligent life. How many is that? Just take a look at this numerical comparison; thus, If we use the estimate of two-trillion galaxies in the universe, that would mean ET may live on over 2 quadrillion planets in our universe.

Don’t even try to comprehend how many fusion reactions occur here every second when you include all of these stars. Fuhgeddaboudit!

What About the Scientific Formulas?

The above calculations were based on a general layman’s assumption, but have the experts given the possibility of extraterrestrial life serious thought?

American astronomer and astrophysicist Dr. Frank Drake developed a formula that he presented at a meeting in Virginia in 1961. It is called the Drake Equation, which calculates the possibilities of life on other worlds within our own Milky Way galaxy.

Drake Equation
Nasa Photo

We won’t go into the calculations, but in a general sense, it is based on our assumptions above but uses trigonometry to formulate a much more explicit and precise determination of ET’s existence. For you science and math connoisseurs, feel free to give it a shot below!

The terms are as follows:

N : The number of planets in the galaxy where electromagnetic emissions are detectable
R: The rate of scanability to have exoplanets with habitable Fnes revolve around them
fp : The fr those stars that have solar systems
ne : The number of planets in each solar system within the Goldilocks Zone
f:r of planets on where life may exist
fi : The number of planets where intelligent life may exist
fc : The number of planets that have civilizations with a technology where we can detect their signals
L : The length of time that these civilizations have produced these signals

What About the UFO Sightings?

Now we come to the discussion of UFOs. If life does indeed exist, are they here or not?

Where are the Pictures?

Illustration of a space ship with human hands reaching out to it
Photo: iStock

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and Director of the NYC Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space had an interesting thought.

He said with all the cell phones that people have these days (which account for hundreds of millions), not one person has come forward with a clear picture of a UFO, alluding to the assumption that if there is life in outer space, they most likely have not reached us.

We are sure Dr. Tyson believes that intelligent life does exist, but he is being realistic in suggesting that ET still has to come here before he calls home.

What About Worm Holes?

Dr. Tyson’s view is the opinion of one expert and his statement is by no means conclusive. With that said, Dr. Tyson welcomes the opinions of other experts in the field, such as his colleague theoretical physicist and CUNY Professor Dr. Michio Kaku, who advances to theories beyond current reality and states that aliens could be here by way of quantum computing. (To see the complete discussion of Dr. Tyson and Dr. Kaku, check out our article on quantum computing).

The Quantum Link

We earthlings are only at the fetal stages of quantum computing, but Dr. Kaku suggests that it’s quite possible that extraterrestrial life has already harnessed quantum computing and in so doing, they have been able to obtain the answer to many questions that have baffled humans for mellimena. One such question would be is – how did the big bang happen?

Moreover, if they are able to tackle that question, there is no doubt that they also have been able to determine how a wormhole operates. A wormhole is a phonenoma that allows one to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other or event from one galaxy to another in a matter of minutes.

If this is the case, then perhaps ET is already here and with their advanced capabilities, they could easily cloak themselves from the vision of us Earthlings and if Dr. Kaku’s theories are correct, maybe, just maybe the suggestions of aliens in Men in Black are right!

Conclusion

It is mostly a unanimous decision by scientists that extraterrestrial life does exist and there is agreement that there also is intelligent life out there somewhere, so the question is are they here on Earth or not? And that is where there are still open discussions.

But regardless if they are here, would they look like us? If not what would they look like? Another interesting dilemma to consider!