Exoplanets – Planets With Possibility of Life?
Earth-like planets that inhabit the Goldilocks zone have a chance of life on them according to scientists. Supposedly those planets might have groups of bacteria on them. As on earth, places such as caves are surrounded much by a type of bacteria that have no oxygen or water to survive but they form survival chemicals by the surrounding mud. Their metabolism is incredibly slow and they only reproduce once in a thousand years. So if there are bacteria as such on our planet where there is no oxygen nor water, there just might be possibilities of species adapted to that specific atmosphere in certain exo-planets. This is why scientists are interested in them and are discovering various exo-planets and studying them throughout the years.
According to NASA, their ultimate goal of discovering and researching exoplanets is to “Find unmistakable signs of current life on a planet beyond Earth.” MIT Astronomer Sara Seager and her colleagues in biochemistry are keen to discover life on the planets as they focus on finding six elements that are associated with life on our planet that might be found there. Such elements are oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and hydrogen.
But exactly how many exoplanets are there in space?
This year in 2020 on Jan. 16, 4,108 exoplanets in our own galaxy have been found and confirmed. But there are still many planets out there that are still undiscovered. According to NASA’s Instructor and flight controller Robert Frost, there are around 100 billion stars in our galaxy and up to 10 trillion galaxies in the universe based on measurements of portions of the sky and extrapolation. About 7.6% of the stars are like our sun which are Class G stars. This means that there are 76,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Stars that are similar to our sun, and almost all of these stars have some types of planets. However, currently, scientists are studying a very small portion of the sky using a Kepler telescope. This telescope doesn’t allow scientists to discover planets around stars that are far away from us, but it does allow them to detect light changes from those stars as the planets pass in front of the stars.
Are there any possibilities of life?
Scientists say the main molecule to look for in the planets is oxygen. If oxygen is detected on the planet’s atmosphere there is a very big indication that there could be living creatures on them as on earth oxygen is created when living organisms convert sunlight into chemical energy. For this reason, scientists think that it could be the same on various exoplanets. NASA produced a telescope named the James Webb Space Telescope that is able to “sniff” the atmosphere in planets belonging to distant solar systems.
There are actually some hints that indicate possible life on exoplanets as scientists found conditions on some of the planets that were more suited to life than on earth. “This is a surprising conclusion,” said the Lead Researcher Dr. Stephanie Olson. “It shows us that conditions on some exoplanets with favorable ocean patterns could be better suited to support life that is more abundant or more active than life on earth.” She said.
Another interesting fact to know about space is if there was a planet 65 million lightyears away from us and we hypothetically looked into the planet through a powerful telescope, we would only see the prehistoric period of the planet. And if there were any aliens on that planet and they looked into the earth, they would only see dinosaurs. This is because of the great speed of light. When we look at the bright star Sirius which is 8.6 lightyears away, the light you see of the star in the sky has been traveling for 8.6 years. In other words, while looking at the night sky we are basically looking at light that had traveled from the past as they are many, many years apart.
In conclusion, we may never know what’s out there. There is so much we don’t know about the universe in its entirety, and perhaps will never know. But let’s put space to the side, there is countless information we still don’t know about our own planet yet! For instance, the ocean is still a complete alien world to us as it is 71% of the earth, let alone land which only makes up 29% but still, despite given this small percentage, there are countless discoveries on land and many are still are hidden.