Science News

Panspermia is very likely according to new calculations

A new study takes into consideration the hypothesis of the so-called “panspermia,” ie the hypothesis that life can spread from a star system to a star system through ejected bodies, primarily asteroids. According to new calculations, this phenomenon would be very likely.

The new study, carried out by a researcher from the Institute of Theory and Computation at Harvard University, Idan Ginsburg, is based on the most complete calculation that has ever been made regarding the probability of this event taking place, at least in the Milky Way. The results that the researcher, together with his colleagues, achieved, through naturally computerized simulations, surprised the researchers themselves.

The results would show that up to 10 trillion objects of the size of a normal asteroid can exist that can carry life in the form of microorganisms. These objects would be joined by another 100 million bodies the size of Enceladus (about 500 miles in diameter) and another 1000 objects of the size of the Earth that carry life or prebiotic material.

This means that panspermia within the Milky Way “is not only possible, it is probable,” as suggested by Ginsburg himself. The problem relating to ultraviolet radiation, potentially destructive of all life, would not be so serious according to the researcher: even a few centimeters of ice rock would be enough to provide sufficient protection.

This is without counting that there are extremophile life forms, such as the tardigrades, that can survive in space even without protection. Moreover, it has been discovered in recent years that many bacteria and microorganisms can survive in space and in theory also in the “re-entry” phase, ie the impact of the body that transports life onto the surface of another astronomical body, typically a planet.

In this regard, it could be precisely the galactic center that acts as a “dandelion” to sow these objects throughout the rest of the galaxy.

In this area there are in fact numerous astronomical bodies of all sizes, planetesimals, comets, asteroids, moons of all kinds, which, once expelled from their own galactic courtyard, could act as vehicles for the transport of life in every area of ​​the galaxy.