A new study that was published in The Astrophysical Journal indicates that there may not be so many habitable worlds in Omega Centauri, which is one of the brightest globular clusters.
How did the scientists reach this conclusion
The reason why researchers believe that the chances of finding any potential life in Omega Centauri are small is due to the close proximity of the nearby stars. Such closeness simply wouldn’t allow for liquid water to exist on exoplanets from this cluster. This particular globular cluster that has approximately 10 million stars is located somewhere around only 16,000 light-years from our planet, being an inviting place to observe with the Hubble Space Telescope.
According to Stephen Kane, who is the main researcher and also an exoplanet expert, it is not known yet how many exoplanets lie at the core of Omega Centauri, but since such compact star clusters can be seen across the universe, it is worth trying to search for habitable worlds in such interesting places.
Searching for potential life on exoplanets
Kane, together with a student from the San Francisco State University, Sarah Deveny, looked at 350,000 stars in the globular cluster, using the Hubble telescope. They chose stars that might be suitable for hosting planets with life on them, judging by their age and temperatures. Both of them made calculations in order to determine which is the habitable zone for each star. Sadly, Omega Centauri turns out to be a terrible place for hosting life, as according to the new study stars lie at a distance of 0.16 light-years from each other, which makes the core of the cluster an extremely compact place.
By comparison, the distance between our Sun and its closet neighbor, Proxima Centauri, is 4.22 light-years. The crowded core of the Omega Centauri cluster would lead to stars gravitationally interacting with each other at a very high rate, which would make it hard for “stable habitable planets” to exist. This could mean that “studying globular clusters with lower encounter rates might lead to a higher probability of finding stable habitable planets”, according to Deveny.
Laura grew up in a small town in northern Quebec. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Laura is an advocate for people with disabilities.