While searching for extraterrestrial life signs, researchers often concentrate on the ‘Goldilocks zone,’ the area surrounding a star where the temperature would be just perfect for liquid water to be present on a cycling planet’s surface. Now, a team of scientists from Harvard University is implying that there is another type of Goldilocks zone they should take into consideration in the hunt for alien life, and rather than having the stars at its core, it has supermassive black holes.
These supermassive black holes are encircled by spinning disks of gas and dust known as ‘active galactic nuclei’ (AGN). These disks generate enormous amounts of radiation, and many scientists think this radiation would wreck the atmospheres of close by planets, producing a ‘dead zone’ surrounding the black hole.
However, the researchers who published a new Harvard study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, are disputing that premise.
Radiation from black holes might create life
Researcher Manasvi Lingam said that people have mainly been talking about the harmful consequences of black holes, but they wanted to analyze how detrimental the radiation is, in fact, and ask whether there are any positives. To perform this analysis, the scientists designed computer models of AGNs. Utilizing them, they could detect ‘galactic Goldilocks zones’ around black holes.
If located within that area, a planet’s atmosphere would remain untouched, while the AGN’s radiation could split its particles into life-supporting fragments. The light from the AGN, in the meantime, could produce photosynthesis, researchers write in their study. The scientists also analyzed the presumed negative effects of AGN radiation on a close by a planet and concluded that they have been really exaggerated.
Even though previous research implies that the harmful effects of a black hole the diameter of the Milky Way’s Sagittarius A would destroy the atmosphere of any planet similar to Earth’s within a range of 3,200 light-years, they suggest that the damage would only reach a span of just 100 light-years.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.