Can earthlings find a new home in a galaxy far away?5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Imagine our world five billion years in the future. You might have ideas of futuristic technologies that wouldn’t be possible today. However, our very own Earth will most likely be gone by that time. Astronomers have predicted that the sun will explode and destroy the Earth along with it five billion years from now. Additionally, climate change is seeming like a sudden and looming threat and that could be another reason to leave behind our home for a new one. But, could there be a planet that could be inhabitable by humans?
Which planets can we inhabit and why?
This is a question that several astronomers, scientists specializing in outer space, are asking. So far, we haven’t found anything that could definitely be a habitable planet. But, we have found signs of Earth-like planets in the Goldilocks zone. This zone is the ideal area for a planet to be and orbit in. The right temperature, distance, and Earth-like features are used to determine where the Goldilocks zone is. Now, astronomers have discovered two options emerging from the rest that could be our new home pretty soon.
The first possible home
The first option astronomers have identified is inhabiting a planet that is still in our solar system once the sun dies. They believe in this possibility because they once found a planet orbiting a now dead star. This new planet, discovered originally in 2010, took time to analyze and determine whether or not it was a possible option. After 10 long years, scientists have concluded that even once the sun dies, this planet will be inhabitable.
The second possible home
What’s even better is that this is not the only option. Another exoplanet has been discovered, which makes it nearly 5,000 to date. These are planets that are orbiting another star far away. Unfortunately, all of these planets may not be in the exclusive club of Goldilocks planets. Therefore, only very few of these exoplanets are even suitable for humans.
An exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star outside of the solar system.
Now, if we narrow down the scope to just Sun-like stars, only 1 out of every 5 of these stars have a planet orbiting them in the Goldilocks zone. While this may seem like a lot, transportation time and several other factors have to be taken into account to decide whether or not the planet is even possible to inhabit.
Now, NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope has identified the first signs of an exoplanet outside of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. If we take out transportation time, finding other planets outside our galaxy could open up way more possibilities.
Why all of this hasn’t happened yet
All of this exoplanet talk may not even be necessary if we save our world. Removing plastics from the ocean, reducing our carbon footprint, and several other ways to save Earth could mean this search is not as urgent as we thought it to be. But, if Earth becomes too hot because of climate change or bursts to pieces because of the Sun, we need to make sure we have a backup plan to be ready to move to our new home.
While scientists have discovered all of these possibilities, there are other factors to take into account to make these planets suitable for humans. We may need to terraform planets if they don’t have enough greenery or can’t product oxygen or bend the laws of physics to find our new home. But for now, all we can do is hope in the quest to find our new home.
What do you feel scientists should focus on: Fixing the planet or finding another inhabitable place for humankind?