Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Most Dangerous Part of the Galaxy

How far our planet orbits from the Sun, along with other factors such as atmospheric composition, a carbon cycle and the existence of water, has told astronomers much about the conditions that are required for life to not only originate, but to survive on rocky worlds. This distance from a star is referred to, quite simply, as the ‘Habitable Zone’ or sometimes the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ because conditions here are neither too hot or too cold for water to be liquid on the planet’s surface — conditions just right for life as we know it to thrive.





Copernican theory tells us that our world is a typical rocky planet in a typical planetary system. This concept has spurred some astronomers to start thinking bigger, way beyond the simplicity of any one planetary system and instead towards much grander scales. Astronomers are exploring whether there is a Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ) in our Galaxy – a region of the Milky Way that is conducive to forming planetary systems with habitable worlds. The Galactic Habitable Zone implies that if there are conditions just right for a planet around a star, then the same must go for a galaxy.

One recent assessment of the GHZ, by Michael Gowanlock of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, and his Trent University colleagues David Patton and Sabine McConnell, has suggested that while the inner sector of the MIlky Way Galaxy may be the most dangerous, it is also most likely to support habitable worlds.



Although the outer regions of the Galaxy, with their lower density of stars and fewer supernovae, are generally safer, the higher metallicity in the inner Galaxy means that the chances of finding an unsterilized, habitable world are ten times greater, according to Gowanlock’s model. However, their model does not stipulate any region of the Galaxy to be uninhabitable, only that it’s less likely to find habitable planets elsewhere.

This explains why our Solar System can reside far outside of the inner region, and it also gives hope that there are regions of the Galaxy even more likely to have life, and many searches are already targeted towards the galactic center.






One recent assessment of the GHZ, by Michael Gowanlock of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, and his Trent University colleagues David Patton and Sabine McConnell, has suggested that while the inner sector of the MIlky Way Galaxy may be the most dangerous, it is also most likely to support habitable worlds. - See more at: http://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/living-in-the-galactic-danger-zone/#sthash.ZpYQNOiw.dpuf
How far our planet orbits from the Sun, along with other factors such as atmospheric composition, a carbon cycle and the existence of water, has told astronomers much about the conditions that are required for life to not only originate, but to survive on rocky worlds. This distance from a star is referred to, quite simply, as the ‘Habitable Zone’ or sometimes the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ because conditions here are neither too hot or too cold for water to be liquid on the planet’s surface — conditions just right for life as we know it to thrive. - See more at: http://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/living-in-the-galactic-danger-zone/#sthash.ZpYQNOiw.dpuf
How far our planet orbits from the Sun, along with other factors such as atmospheric composition, a carbon cycle and the existence of water, has told astronomers much about the conditions that are required for life to not only originate, but to survive on rocky worlds. This distance from a star is referred to, quite simply, as the ‘Habitable Zone’ or sometimes the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ because conditions here are neither too hot or too cold for water to be liquid on the planet’s surface — conditions just right for life as we know it to thrive. - See more at: http://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/living-in-the-galactic-danger-zone/#sthash.ZpYQNOiw.dpuf

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