Friday, January 08, 2016

Star hopping

Alien life could thrive in ancient star clusters : Nature News & Comment

Until now, scientists have largely discounted the idea of finding
extraterrestrial civilizations in globular clusters, which each contain
thousands to millions of stars. Out of the thousands of known extrasolar planets,
only one has been found in such a cluster, and many astronomers think
that the gravitational interactions among tightly packed stars would
have long ago hurled any accompanying planets into deep space.

But the proximity of all those stars may actually be an advantage for
supporting life, says Rosanne Di Stefano, a theoretical astrophysicist
at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. Lots of closely packed stars could also mean lots of
planetary systems within easy travelling distance. “If there is an
advanced society in an environment like that, it could set up outposts
relatively easily, because we’re dealing with distances that are so much
shorter,” she says.

With such networking, civilizations in a globular cluster might endure
for billions of years, and thus be around for humans to communicate with
today or in the future.

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