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Intelligent Life Could Be Lurking In Ancient Star Clusters

Update Date: Jan 07, 2016 02:31 PM EST
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Suggesting that earth-like planets could exist amidst a dense cluster of stars, two researchers are arguing for changing the rules of the life-search game.

According to BBC, Dr. Rosanne Di Stefano of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and her partner Dr. Alek Ray of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India proposed at American Astronomical Society that Globular Clusters could allow for the formation of earth-like planets. If given enough time and all other things favorable, life could flourish on such planets. Globular clusters are known contain millions of stars separate by as little as 100 light years.

While the search for extraterrestrial life often takes astronomers on new paths, globular clusters have been examined before. According to a news release form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, only one planet has been found in a cluster before. Di Stefano and Ray however argue that the search among clusters makes sense as the dynamics of clusters are different from planetary systems that exist elsewhere in galaxies.

To support their arguments, they state that globular clusters are very old and contain stars that are well past their prime. Such stars would have habitable zones closer than what hot stars like the Sun have around them, Christian Science Monitor reports. Also, the proximity of a planet to its parent star in a cluster could render it safe from interstellar interactions that a dense cluster of stars is bound to witness.

"A globular cluster might be the first place in which intelligent life is identified in our galaxy," DiStefano said.

The perks for life in such a cluster? For starters, exciting space travel is guaranteed given that interstellar distance are relatively smaller than in other parts of galaxies.  

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