New Theory Suggests Life Could Evolve on Planets Orbiting Black Holes

Thursday, 21 January 2016 - 9:01PM
Astrobiology
Astrophysics
Alien Life
Thursday, 21 January 2016 - 9:01PM
New Theory Suggests Life Could Evolve on Planets Orbiting Black Holes
Even though the movie Interstellar depicted the possibility of habitable planets in orbit around a black hole, it's been a known fact that similar areas in the known universe would probably not be the first place to go looking for alien life. However, that understanding concerning where and when life can evolve may be about to change according to a new theory proposed by Czech Republic scientist Tomáš Opatrný.    

The second law of thermodynamics demands the existence of a temperature difference for life to occur; after all, where else would it find a source of energy? Life is possible on Earth due to the difference in temperature between the sun and the vacuum of space. So if a temperature difference is all that's needed, what would happen if the roles were reversed? What if it was the star that was cold and the space that was hot? According to the new theory, this would provide the conditions necessary for energy transfer to take place and for life to exist.  

However, there are specifications on what kind of black hole could create these circumstances. It needs to be an old black hole that's finished feeding on material - otherwise, Hawking Radiation takes place, making it impossible for it to act as a cold sun to any nearby planets. The vacuum of space is usually about 2.7 Kelvin (or -270 Celsius) due to the Cosmic Microwave Background, but this temperature difference is enough for a nearby planet to drain about 900 watts of power - enough for life to exist. Keeping in mind that the vacuum of space used to be warmer in the past, the difference would have been great enough at one point to even support liquid water on a planet orbiting a black hole.  

This being said, Avi Loeb of Harvard University has pointed out the fact that different kinds of materials are continually falling into black holes, so it would be unlikely to find life in such areas of the universe. These ideas are still quite telling, however. In fact, some scientists believe that these types of circumstances may allow (or force) future civilizations to migrate to planets orbiting black holes when the universe begins to die and the stars begin to fade some 100 trillion years from now. It's quite a bleak picture of the future for certain, but at least after all that time there'll still be a source of energy for whatever species may then inhabit the universe.
Science
Space
Astrobiology
Astrophysics
Alien Life

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