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Planets not tethered to suns could ferry life around galaxy?

nomad planet/artist Greg Stewart, SLAC Stanford

In “Could free-floating ‘nomad’ planets carry seeds of life in the universe?” (Christian Science Monitor , February 24, 2012), Pete Spotts reports,

A ‘nomad’ planet of the right mass, with the right atmosphere, and some source of heat – perhaps radioactive decay or tectonic activity – could allow for life either on the surface or underground.

While most of the nearly 800 planets discovered since the mid-Nineties orbit stars,

Since 2000, however, astronomers have discovered planets with no obvious stellar home. A group of Spanish astronomers reported that year discovering planets ranging from five to 15 times Jupiter’s mass free floating in a cluster of young stars in the constellation Orion. Last year, two groups of astronomers jointly announced the discovery of 10 Jupiter-class planets, the vast majority free of the grip of any host star. The results appeared last May in the journal Nature.

Researchers differ as to how these untethered planets got started, but some suggest that they could ferry life to other planets:

Collisions with other objects might knock off bacteria-laden chunks that could be available to land on some more-hospitable planet.

Sunless planets were in search of a headline until this thesis came along. It’s interesting for what it leaves out: How would life get started in such an unfavourable environment? Most theorists clash over favourable environments.

(It’s true that nematode worms survived the space shuttle blowup, but they already existed. No one expected them to get started that way.)

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4 Responses to Planets not tethered to suns could ferry life around galaxy?

  1. If volition, consciousness and purpose are innate aspects of reality, there would be no need for life to be ferried around the galaxy. Life will develop wherever an appropriate environment appears.
    Berthajane Vandegrift
    A Few Autistic Questions about Freud, Marx and Darwin
    http://30145.myauthorsite.com/

  2. There are some extremely interesting things being learned in the exoplanets arena, an area of study that didn’t even exist in practice until 1995. This is a new area of science and has continued to bring a wealth of discoveries, almost on a monthly basis.

    However, to the extent any materialists want to use objective astronomical discoveries to support the thesis of a purely materialistic origin of life, they will be sorely disappointed. All the discussions of other planets or amino acids in comets don’t change one iota the awful probabilistic hurdles that the materialistic creation myth has to overcome. There is one lesson to be gleaned, however, from the regular speculations about life coming to earth from elsewhere: namely, those individuals are implicitly acknowledging that the Earth doesn’t look good as a starting point for a materialistic origins story.

  3. Excellent point, Eric. I guess they figure the more ideas they can come up with the better. It might make some people feel better about the possibility of one of them eing right, but in my mind, since none of them are credible, it doesnt help their case in the least.

  4. Excellent point, Eric. I guess they figure the more ideas they can come up with the better. It might make some people feel better about the possibility of one of them eing right, but in my mind, since none of them are credible, it doesnt help their case in the least.

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