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One of the Best Explanations For Why We Haven’t Found Alien Life

So far, the only examples of sentient life we’ve found are right here on our own planet. It’s not for lack of trying, though—we’ve sent out spacecraft deep into our solar system and, so far, still remain alone. What if the problem isn’t where we are looking, though, but when?

A forthcoming study in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle looks at the possibility that life as we know it may not require a star similar to our sun but could emerge on planets orbiting much smaller, weaker stars. If we do allow for the possibility of life around non-sunlike stars, then it turns out that the universe is likely to be much more habitable in the distant future than it is today.

“It’s natural for us to think that we are the most common form of life, simply because that’s the only one that we know of,” lead author of the paper, Harvard University’s Avi Loeb, told Gizmodo. “Therefore, people assumed that being next to star like the sun was the most likely place for life to emerge.”

If you throw out the assumption that we need a sun-like star, though, then there’s a whole new class of stars—smaller and less powerful than the sun, but far more common—that suddenly start to look like good candidates. They’re called low mass stars.

Although these stars throw out less light and heat than our powerful sun, they still emit enough to create potentially habitable zones that could support liquid water on close-orbiting rocky planets. Not only are these types of stars more common in the universe than sun-like stars, but they also have much considerably longer lifespans of more than 1,000 times that of the sun.

Using this information, Loeb calculated that it was much more likely for life to have emerged in the distant future around one of those low mass stars than to have emerged in our time on a sun-orbiting planet like Earth.

“If you allow low mass stars to have life, just like we find here on Earth, then the probability of life emerging in the future 10 trillion years from now is one thousand times bigger to find life,” noted Loeb.

Proxima Centauri, a low mass star just four light years away from us (Image: ESA/Hubble/NASA)

And yet, we are not orbiting a low mass star, trillions of years in the future. We are here and now, orbiting our Sun—and this is the only place we’ve ever found sentient life. That suggests an intriguing explanation. Perhaps we are simply searching way too soon.

In other words, we may be alone in the universe right now. But that’s only because we showed up long before life really started to get going. If this hypothesis is the correct one, then the real explosion of life in the universe hasn’t yet happened—and likely won’t happen for trillions of years after us.

There’s also a second, alternate explanation that would account for all the facts. Perhaps there’s something about low mass stars which, even in zones that are technically habitable, suppresses life from ever forming.

“We still keep the notion that, perhaps, we are at the center of the biological universe, that we are really the only ones or special in that regard, or in terms of intelligence,” Loeb said. “If it turns out that we are rare and early on in the game then that would be really surprising to me because, so far, whenever we look we have found that we are not special and we are not the center of the universe.”

Figuring out which of these two possibilities are correct hinges on the question of whether low mass stars can indeed support life. We won’t necessarily have to wait several trillions of years to find out, though. Instead, Loeb suggests that the answers could be found in the next decade or so.

By sampling the atmospheres of planets around nearby low mass stars, researchers can search for biomarkers that would suggest whether these planets are capable of supporting life. If they keep finding atmospheres devoid of signs that they are capable of supporting life, then it’s likely that something about these low mass stars—perhaps their frequent solar flares or some other attribute—renders the planets orbiting them sterile.

If, however, they find that these planets do appear able to support life then it may be that the lack of other life in the universe is simply because we showed up too soon to see any of it.


Correction: A previous version of this story said “we’ve sent out spacecraft deep into our galaxy. It has been updated to say “we’ve sent out spacecraft deep into our solar system.”


Source gizmodo.com


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    • You have the the same moronic mindset like the clown from Harvard. What this dweeb is actually saying, is that no other life exists in the Universe, and will only arrive on the scene trillions of years into the future. What utter kak and bollocks! Beings with hugely superior minds than us have been on this planet for many thousands of years, and will continue to be here for the foreseeable future. It amazes me that there are still people out there who believe that we are the only intelligence?? in the Universe. How positively droll! how absolutely arrogant! Do you clowns really think that this vast Universe with billions of galaxies, star systems and planets was created just for you, and the 7 billion insignificant humans on this planet, think again. Do you really think that the Creator is (was) such a dumb-ass? I think not.

  1. Oh by the way after writting the words bellow a jacket just fell off My baby van as if someone through it down since it was inthe middle and shouldn’t have been able to fall,i felt intence fear and u who has met aliens Know that they cause extreme fear they are not bad but has power and told me to be carefull what i write and i stopped writting about them when i just wrote the Word alien My sleeping son screamed as if something pinched him so don’t write about them or talk about them in a mean way,even Angels touch or pinch us,lol

  2. we have found plenty of it and its remains right on our own moon, do ya really think the Gov spent all that money and put mens life in danger to go get rocks…. think again, we went to get Alien tech left there by otherworldly beings, and there is plenty of it there including our own Tech left behind, hell we even left a car there !

  3. 2 explanations…distance( shit so far away that by the time we discovered it, they would likely be extinct) and the other reason, if it were discovered that life was out there, the powers that be would never reveal it to the masses.

    • No, not narrow minded, just realistic. Look at the extinction events on our planet as an example. if a civilization exists out there, then the distances and the time would limit anything found. Our own broadcasts began in the 1930’s so our bubble of interstellar noise would only be detectable for less than 100 light years, anything living outside that bubble would not hear us, so we would be considered a dead planet to anyone listening. If the listening post, say 300 light years away finally heard us in year X and sent a response back, it would still take 300 years for that signal to reach us. Would we still be alive as a species to hear the message?Likely not because humans suck and we are on the brink of wiping our species out in a nuclear war right now, all we need is one catalyst to end our useless existence. let’s say Iran or North Korea tries out one of their new nuclear toys on someone. You know, Iran fires a nuke at Jerusalem…that is all it would take to end our whole species because the retaliation would be immediate. Israel would return fire, then Russia would fire on Israel, then America would fire on Iran, and China would fire on everyone, it is literally walking the edge of the razor every day we are alive and we can fall off that bitch at any moment.

    • Furthermore, the very first Earth television broadcast was Adolf Hitler, that fucking guy is our emissary to the stars. You think an alien race who receives THAT broadcast will see us as anything but hostile and even WANT to return a signal?

  4. The best explanation is denial, we find it every day in our skys, astronauts and former Nasa employees have come forward to say space is teeming with life, and it looks a lot like us, this is deliberate double speak, distorting and obscuring reality in attempt to hide the truth!

  5. Why do i dream of ufos and aliens every week and the next day i always see a very thick white cloud which is a good ufo hide out and i believe they can make clouds some how!!!a woman was in Labour when the ufo land near our home and she was’nt pregnant!i wrote down ufo alien Dreams but stopped after all i dream of them weekly yet i don’t watch movies or google them alot,maybe once in 2 months,i could write a book about the Dreams that would become a film since in My dream its like an alien invasion film,

  6. Because we are horrible greedy idiots using antiquated technology because of a few rich assholes that keep politicians from moving the world forward with newer advancements that would help out the entire human race. Aliens see how we are to one another and know we are a shitty Earth destroying species that would annihilate each other if given the slightest chance. Most likely they are already working with our governments though and don’t want anything to do with the bullshit that runs this world.

  7. Well.. i wanna live that much to see for myself , we are not all ready for it , people`s lifes are so brain washed , lies and more lies , we make jokes about other species , but we bomb our planet , that is a living organism our home , our dna is way more advanced than u think

  8. If the civilisations are older than us then they’ve probably gone down the same path we seem to be going A.I. Artificial intelligence and the machines have taken over in doing so wiping themselves out similar to judgment day in the terminator movie’s , so probably not organic alien life but machines have taken over and are not interested in us ! ?

  9. As far as “trying” goes, I hope they aren’t talking about sending out radio signals. As the speed of sound, it should reach the next star system in a few million generations. The only way to make contact, at this point in our technology, is through extending our own consciousness, and sending up a peaceful message that we desire for them to make contact with us. Which, they have. Now, 95% of what’s out there about “UFO’s” is utter garbage, be it a hoax or misinterpretation, but the remaining 5% is what won’t allow me to walk away from these investigations. There is something…and providing physical evidence of something that vibrates on a frequency above our understanding of matter will not occur. We need to take an alternative approach.

  10. There is so much stuff out there, there has to be life on far away planets. We have not found it yet because we are too little to get it done in the time we have had tech with a chance. It will probably require hundreds of human generations, Patience is the hardest thing.

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