Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists from ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.
In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realised new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.
“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” said Dr Aditya Chopra, lead author on the paper, which is published in Astrobiology.
“Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”
“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable.”
About four billion years ago Earth, Venus and Mars may have all been habitable. However, a billion years or so after formation, Venus turned into a hothouse and Mars froze into an icebox.
Early microbial life on Venus and Mars, if there was any, failed to stabilise the rapidly changing environment, said co-author Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver from the ANU Planetary Science Institute.
“Life on Earth probably played a leading role in stabilising the planet’s climate,” he said.
Dr Chopra said their theory solved a puzzle.
“The mystery of why we haven’t yet found signs of aliens may have less to do with the likelihood of the origin of life or intelligence and have more to do with the rarity of the rapid emergence of biological regulation of feedback cycles on planetary surfaces,” he said.
Wet, rocky planets, with the ingredients and energy sources required for life seem to be ubiquitous, however, as physicist Enrico Fermi pointed out in 1950, no signs of surviving extra-terrestrial life have been found.
A plausible solution to Fermi’s paradox, say the researchers, is near universal early extinction, which they have named the Gaian Bottleneck.
“One intriguing prediction of the Gaian Bottleneck model is that the vast majority of fossils in the universe will be from extinct microbial life, not from multicellular species such as dinosaurs or humanoids that take billions of years to evolve,” said Associate Professor Lineweaver.
The Latest on: Gaian Bottleneck
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The Latest on: Gaian Bottleneck
- 3 compelling reasons why we haven't found aliens yeton September 18, 2018 at 2:45 pm
Another idea proposed in 2016 is what's called the Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis. It addresses the fact that many young rocky planets no older than one billion years have extremely unstable climates, ...
- RIP E.T. – Alien Life On Most Exoplanets Dies Youngon September 7, 2018 at 5:53 pm
This is because the earliest habitable conditions may be unstable. In our “Gaian Bottleneck” model, planets need to be inhabited in order to remain habitable. So even if the emergence of life ...
- Where Are All the Aliens? Maybe They’re Mostly Microbial (and Dead)on May 10, 2018 at 5:42 am
Before we tackle the Gaian bottleneck theory, let’s discuss the larger Gaian hypothesis. First proposed by James Lovelock, the Gaia hypothesis proposes that living organisms interact with ...
- Gaian bottleneckon May 10, 2018 at 1:39 am
A theory on why we don’t see more life (much less alien civilizations) argues that life might arise easily, but go extinct within a billion years of planetary formation.
- Query Bottlenecks in Gaian Database Networkson December 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm
In this paper, the authors present an analysis of the Gaian Database (GaianDB) topology to determine whether the overall query throughput of a GaianDB network is limited by specific bottleneck nodes.
- Where Is Alien Life? Six Of The Top Theorieson December 1, 2017 at 8:09 am
In this case, perhaps one of the other ideas here holds true. According to the “Gaian Bottleneck” hypothesis, life needs particular environmental conditions to develop, and they’re not so common.
- Alien life on most exoplanets likely dies youngon June 6, 2016 at 6:14 am
In our "Gaian Bottleneck" model, planets need to be inhabited in order to remain habitable. So even if the emergence of life is common, its persistence may be rare. Mars, Venus and Earth were more ...
- RIP E.T. – alien life on most exoplanets dies youngon June 5, 2016 at 8:47 pm
This is because the earliest habitable conditions may be unstable. In our “Gaian Bottleneck” model, planets need to be inhabited in order to remain habitable. So even if the emergence of life is ...
- No signs of alien life? Maybe they're all extincton January 22, 2016 at 1:46 am
This theory of near universal early extinction, which they dub the Gaian Bottleneck, could serve as a solution to the Fermi Paradox, which asks why when the universe is brimming with wet, rocky ...
- Why Can't We Find Aliens? Climate Change Killed Themon January 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm
Chopra and Lineweaver suggest their new research provides some answer to this paradox and call it the "Gaian Bottleneck." If life isn't given a chance to stabilize its biosphere, then it's doomed.
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