Globular Star Clusters Could Harbor Alien Life

Posted: Jan 7 2016, 4:31am CST | by , Updated: Jan 7 2016, 5:27am CST, in Latest Science News


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Globular Star Clusters could harbor Alien Life

It has been surmised that globular star clusters could harbor alien life.

Globular star clusters are a strange phenomenon found in the depths of space. They are highly compact. So much so that a million stars could be found packed within close distances to each other. And they are ancient indeed.

Some of them go back as far as the genesis of the Milky Way. These clusters could also be the best place to look for alien life forms. At least, they are a good start for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence in the universe.

"A globular cluster might be the first place in which intelligent life is identified in our galaxy," says lead author Rosanne DiStefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

DiStefano presented this research on Wednesday in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Our very own Milky Way has about 150 such globular clusters. The majority of them lie on the periphery of the galaxy. They were created some 10 billion years ago. Their stars do not have as many heavy elements that are needed in the formation of planets.

Such elements (iron and silicon) must have been formed in the earlier types of stars. Many scientists have postulated that there is little chance of there being any planets in globular clusters. In fact, up until now only one planet has been found in their densely packed arena.

However, there are a few researchers who deny that this is true. They say that such a point of view is too dismal to stand the test of time. Exoplanets have been detected around stars that contain much less metal than our sun.

While planets the size of Jupiter are found around stars that contain heavy elements, earth-sized planets do not have any such conditions for their configuration in space.

It is indeed a bit too early to make any conjectures about alien intelligence in space. The closely packed condition of globular clusters also may spell the doom of any planets that manage to get formed in their midst.

The habitat of a star depends upon the properties of the star. Brighter stars have more distant zones of habitable planets. Those planets that orbit dimmer stars would have to huddle closer together.

Brighter stars also have shorter life spans. They seem to burn out faster. The main stars in globular clusters are the red dwarfs. The moment planets are formed, they tend to have staying power.

Many of them last as long as the current universe has been in existence. So the question of the presence of life on many of these stable planets is a valid query.

The nature of the alien life living within these globular clusters is another matter though. It will be radically different from our own carbon-based life forms.

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