The Surprising Reason We Haven't Found Alien Life Yet? The 'Equator Trap'

Friday, 01 December 2017 - 11:36AM
Alien Life
Friday, 01 December 2017 - 11:36AM
The Surprising Reason We Haven't Found Alien Life Yet? The 'Equator Trap'
A new theory blows the search for alien life wide open: We probably have spotted a life-bearing world by now, but we didn't notice it because all the aliens are hiding around the planet's equator. 

With every passing year, our understanding of the universe grows. Now, thanks to powerful telescopes and devices that measure gravitational waves, we're able to get a pretty good estimation of what planets on the other side of the galaxy look like.

With all of this planet-watching, though, there's one thing we haven't spotted: life.

An increasing amount of time is being spent trying to figure out where all the aliens in the galaxy might be hiding. By all rights, we should have found something approximating life on other planets by this point, but alas, nothing has turned up.

There are a lot of different theories as to why we haven't positively identified life somewhere else in the universe just yet, and as our search for galactic neighbors continues to turn up short, these theories are becoming increasingly complex.

 But researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany believe the real reason's been hiding in plain sight all along. We've already found alien life on exoplanets but we haven't spotted them et because they've been disguising themselves, hiding around the equators of their respective planets.

Researchers offered the theory based on a detailed computer simulation that the team created, modeling exoplanets based on those that have been observed in detail by our telescopes—this includes our close neighbors, such as Proxima-b, and Trappist 1-d, one of the most habitable planets in a solar system which has several intriguing secrets that have drawn scientists' attention.

With both planets, simulations looking at their atmosphere suggests that ozone would be pulled by gravity towards their equator, meaning that there would be a narrow bank of land that would be most suitable for the development of life. The ozone layer on our own planet protects us from harmful radiation from the sun, and considering the orbits of these distant planets, life forms would require a significant barrier to prevent their stars from eradicating any hope of life forms growing naturally on their surfaces.

According to project lead Ludmila Carone:

Opening quote
"In principle, an exoplanet with an ozone layer that covers only the equatorial region may still be habitable. Proxima b and TRAPPIST-1d orbit red dwarfs, reddish stars that emit very little harmful UV light to begin with. On the other hand, these stars can be very temperamental, and prone to violent outbursts of harmful radiation including UV."
Closing quote

This is certainly a unique theory in trying to figure out why we haven't spotted aliens thus far, and it's also pretty much the opposite of another theory which posits that most aliens are trapped under a layer of ice that prevents them from seeing or even caring about the stars.

Whatever's going on, all of these different theories only go part-way to explaining why life hasn't developed anywhere in the known universe to the point that we can spot it.

If there are aliens out there, it seems that they're either deliberately hiding from us, or they take some kind of strange form that's so different to what life looks like on our world that they're not paying a single bit of attention to the messages of greeting that planet Earth is constantly yelling out into the black void of space.

It remains to be seen whether we'll ever find proof that aliens exist, but if they do, we can only hope that they have a good reason for ignoring our calls all this time.
Alien Life