The scientific community has known for quite some time now that stars, galaxies and nearly everything else within our universe is steadily drifting further away from us at an increasing pace. It seems now as though the unknown forces causing the rate of accelerating expansion could play a completely unexplored role in the creation of ideal conditions for life.
This mathematical value known as the cosmological constant has been studied in depth by a massive group of physicists searching for data on the effects of massive cosmic explosions (gamma ray bursts) to planets.
These scientists have uncovered that when it comes to developing life, it’s far better to have substantial distance from your neighbors. Plus, the cosmological constant assists in the thinning out of a neighborhood. Cosmologist and theoretical physicist, Raul Jimenez from the University of Barcelona in Spain is a coauthor on the recent study. He states:
“In dense environments, you have many explosions, and you’re too close to them. It’s best to be in the outskirts, or in regions that have not been highly populated by small galaxies – and that’s exactly where the Milky Way is.”
Jimenez and his team of researchers have already shown that gamma ray bursts are capable of causing mass extinctions or simply making planets inhospitable by zapping them with radiation and annihilating their ozone layer. Such bursts channel radiation into tight beams of an intensity that could potentially wipe out planets in an entirely different galaxy. Their latest work applied these findings on a broader scale determining which type of universe would be better suited to support life.
It turns out that our universe has gotten it just right. Given the existing cosmological constant represents the rate of expansion which is large enough to minimize planets’ exposure to gamma ray bursts yet small enough to develop plenty of hydrogen burning stars, life can exist. In the case of a swifter expansion rate, the probability for gas clouds to collapse stars would be much smaller.
Jimenez indicates that the universe’s expansion played a much more significant role in creating habitable worlds than previously expected. “It was surprising to me that you do need the cosmological constant to clear out the region and make it more suburban-like.” He further implies that the next step lies in investigating whether gamma ray bursts are as devastating to life as previously believed among scientists.
His team’s work conveys that such exposure to these massive bursts of radiation would undoubtedly melt away a planet’s ozone layer. Jimenez ponders, “Is this going to be catastrophic to life? I think so, but it may be that life is more resilient than we think.”
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