Alien life could be REALLY weird. It doesn’t necessarily mean that because humans need water, oxygen and a planet like Earth, in order to survive, that our cosmic alien neighbors need the same as well. A new study titled ATMOSPHERIC HABITABLE ZONES IN Y DWARF ATMOSPHERES takes a look at the possibility if whether or not alien life could exist on planets like Jupiter, or cold brown dwarfs, which have been found to contain most of the necessary ingredients for life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.
In 1975 the popular astrophysicist Carl Sagan proposed that there might be life in the upper layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
These organisms would be fed directly from sunlight and would be able to move through the atmosphere by controlling the pressure of their bodies.
His hypothesis could never be verified, but he traced a new course in the search of alien lifeforms in the universe. Years later, Jill Tarter, a researcher for the SETI project, identified a new type of star: cool brown dwarfs.
These celestial bodies possess most of the necessary ingredients for life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, though perhaps not phosphorous.
In March of 2013, scientists identified water clouds in WISE 0855-0714, a brown dwarf located around 7 light years from Earth
Scientists believe that different types of creatures could inhabit their atmospheres, with temperatures similar to those on Earth.
Duncan Forgan, an astrobiologist at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom says that the idea is speculative but definitely worth considering. “It really opens up the field in terms of the number of objects that we might then think, well, these are habitable regions.”
So far only a few dozen cold brown dwarfs have been found, but experts estimate that there could be at least ten within a radius of 30 light years from Earth. If this theory is confirmed, it will be possible to start looking for extraterrestrial life in the vicinity of our planet.
To help mankind in the search for alien life, in 2018 the new James Webb Space Telescope will be put into orbit. His technical abilities, notably superior to those of his predecessor Hubble, will make it possible for astronomers to identify these neighboring stars, which could potentially be an ideal, new sweet spot for life to exist.
As reported by sciencemag, after the James Webb Telescope launches in 2018, it should reveal the weather and the composition of their atmospheres, says Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. “We’re going to start getting gorgeous spectra of these objects,” she says. “This is making me think about it.”
Now a study titled ATMOSPHERIC HABITABLE ZONES IN Y DWARF ATMOSPHERES wants to find out everything they can about the theory.
Researchers write in their study:
“We use a simple organism lifecycle model to explore the viability of an atmospheric habitable zone (AHZ), with temperatures that could support Earth-centric life, which sits above an environment that does not support life. We illustrate this idea using the object WISE J085510.83–0714442.5, which is a cool, free-floating brown dwarf. We allow organisms to adapt to their atmospheric environment (described by temperature, convection, and gravity) by adopting different growth strategies that maximize their chance of survival and proliferation.”
“Based on a previously defined statistical approach we infer that there are of order 109 Y brown dwarfs in the Milky Way, and likely a few tens of these objects are within ten parsecs from Earth. Our work also has implications for exploring life in the atmospheres of temperate gas giants. Consideration of the habitable volumes in planetary atmospheres significantly increases the volume of habitable space in the galaxy,” they concluded.
Featured image by Tryingtofly