Friday, November 2, 2012

The future belongs to microbes

The last form of life on Earth would fall by 2.8 billion years, the sun burned dying - red giant. About a billion years before the only living things on the planet will remain single-celled organisms, hiding in isolated hot and salty waters.

This gloomy prognosis for life on Earth, but a ray of light for those who are looking for life on other planets. After thus renewed hope its discovery in places previously considered inhospitable.

Jack O'Malley-James of St Andrews University (UK) and his colleagues on the basis of what we know about the Earth and the Sun, calculated chronology of the life of aging and try to extrapolate the data to other planetary systems. Given, of course, the sun-like stars age differently, depending on their size. "Habitability - it's not so much immutable characteristic of the planet, how much something like that has its own history," - said the expert.

Scientists began by modeling the temperature rise on the surface of the Earth at different latitudes, not forgetting about the changes the planet's orbit. The first thing out of her face disappear plants, mammals, fish, and so on, then invertebrates. The oceans will evaporate, tectonics stops, because no lubrication plate motion - water. Only at high altitudes, in caves and deep underground will still be small reservoirs of hot brine. The microorganisms that are adapted to these conditions, will rule the Earth about a billion years. Then he will not be there.

Extrapolation to the planetary system of stars of different sizes showed that the bodies, like the earth, in the first 3 billion years of nothing but a single cell. Complex life can exist only a relatively short period of time before dying light, after which all comes back to the microorganisms. Thus, the chances of finding complex life on other planets are very small.

But astrobiologists are not disappointed. Any hint of the existence of the most primitive forms will be the greatest breakthrough and happiness. Perhaps those planets that seem to us uninhabitable, just at a stage when they are just starting up or die (but still have it) life and this is important.

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