‘Italian physicist Enrico Fermi once famously exclaimed “Where is everybody?” We have been trying to answer his paradox — we exist, so aliens should exist, too — ever since. According to one new solution, we have not seen or heard from any galactic neighbors because we are still waiting for them to be born…
So says a team of astronomers in a new study, to be published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. The researchers calculated the probability that life as we know it should exist at any given point in the universe. Based on their assumptions, Earthly life is quite likely premature…’
Source: The Washington Post
Essentially, the argument proceeds from the fact that the conditions for life depend on the stellar environment. The star is the source of radiant energy, the furnace in which the heavier elements on which life is based are created, and creates a habitable temperature zone in which liquid water can exist. The new study suggests that our stellar environment is an anomaly, centered on a yellow dwarf far less long-lived and less prevalent than the less massive, longer-lived and far more prevalent red dwarf stars that make up the bulk of the galaxy. If such low-mass starts are able to support life, then we are the rarity because of how early in the life of the universe, and how transient by comparison, Sun-like conditions are.
“Many more stars that all last much longer than our Sun ensures there’s simply more opportunity for life to arise in the future on a small dwarf star than in the last 13 billion years of cosmic time,” as Alan Duffy, an Australian astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology, who was not involved in the study, commented.