According to new research conducted by astrophysicists, life could traverse from one planet to the next via panspermia, which is a process that enables life to “jump” from one planet to the next, or from one star to the proximate star.
Moreover, astrophysicists believe that, due to technologic and astronomic advances, they will be able to detect potential alien life in exoplanetary systems, but also track its outbreak throughout the galaxy.
Henry Lin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), leader of the study, said that panspermia would be the mechanism through which alien life would jump from one star system to the other, and he was confident scientists would be able to track alien life in approximately one generation.
Panspermia is enabled via a huge impact, should a lively planet be hit by a massive space object, such as an asteroid. Fragments from that particular planet would be propelled into space, whereas life forms from those crust pieces might be transferred to another world. If and only if the life forms survive, they might seed life in their new galactic home after all.
There is yet another panspermia-related theory, which states that “directed panspermia” happens when a flourishing civilization might seed other solar systems with its biological image, via capsules.
Necropanspermia is the specific mechanism which implies that life doesn’t need to make it through the trip, as the dead biology attached to the rock fragments would act as a pattern for life to emerge in a new world.
Even though panspermia does not reach levels other than theoretical ones, scientists nowadays are aware that planet chunks are able to fulfill the trajectory in between two planets. Research revealed the fact that Earth had been hit by planetary pieces of meteorites derived from Mars, which had been propelled into space via massive, ancient impacts.
Avi Loeb, co-author of the study and CfA representative, explained that “life could spread from host star to host star in a pattern similar to the outbreak of an epidemic.” By extrapolation, he also said that life could have spread from Earth to its vicinity or vice-versa.
The essential question scientists now ask themselves is whether panspermia is indeed a valid process, and whether our lives originated directly on Earth, or via panspermia, or if life spread to other solar systems as well. Nevertheless, speculations from the astrobiology field will remain debatable and exciting at the same time.
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