Earth could spread life across the Milky Way

Sep 02, 2011 by Tammy Plotner, Universe Today
Panspermia Illustration Courtesy of Wikipedia

Most of us are familiar with the concept of panspermia – where living organisms can be “seeded” from comet or asteroid impacts – but where does the life-giving content come from? According to a research group led by Mauricio Reyes-Ruiz from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, it just might come from Earth.

Inspired by the discovery of Moon and Mars rocks found on from meteor strikes, the team began computer modeling of what might happen if pieces of Earth were transported across the Solar System via a collision scenario. The simulation involved 10,000 Earth particles moving over a period of 30,000 years. The amount of matter is tiny compared to the bulk our planet and it’s a blink of the eye in cosmic time, but scientists theorize that extreme lifeforms might be able to exist that long in space.

“The collision probability is greater than previously reported,” said Reyes-Ruiz. “It has been suggested that the ejection to interplanetary space of terrestrial crustal material, accelerated in a large impact, may result in the interchange of biological material between Earth and other Solar System bodies”

Could pieces of Earth really reach other planets? According to older theories, chances were good that some might reach the Moon or Venus, but gravity from the Sun and Earth makes reaching Mars improbable. However, the new simulations show a Mars impact – and even Jupiter – to be probable with the right ejection speeds. By involving slightly more particles at five times the rate of motion, the new results show the particles could even go beyond the Solar System. Oddly enough, the faster they moved, the lesser their chances of encountering the Moon and Venus became. Of the 10,242 tested, 691 particles ‘escaped’ out of the entirely, and six landed on Jupiter itself. Is this a Neil Young vision of flying Mother Nature’s silver seed to a new home?

Chris Shepherd of the Institute of Physics in London, who was not involved in the study, might agree with this conclusion. “This is an intriguing piece of work. The team have mapped out a really interesting scenario,” he said. One possible collision zone is Europa, the moon of Jupiter, and while the team did not simulate the number of that would specifically land there, many astronomers believe that it contains a large ocean, and could therefore support .”

Explore further: Lichens can survive space conditions for extended periods

More information: Original Story Source: Cosmos Magazine News Release. For Further Study: Dynamics of escaping Earth ejecta and their collision probability with different Solar System bodies arXiv:1108.3375v1 [astro-ph.EP]

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User comments : 9

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rynox
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2011
If this is true, it is far more likely that life forms on earth are imported from other planets/locations. Fungi, Viruses, for example? They both seem very alien when compared to other kingdoms.
pokerdice1
5 / 5 (4) Sep 02, 2011
@rynox Good cornerstone conjecture though viruses and fungi same the coding regime as other types of life on Earth which alone strongly indicates they are terrestrial in origin.
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2011
If we don't find life out in the galaxy, we can always blow our load out into it and create life.

Why do these panspermia type articles always lend themselves to double entendres?
hard2grep
1 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2011
I wonder if there is an alien race out there that gets wild kicks out of blowing up stars. This firebug race is going to see our star as a very stable star that does not conform to the eventual chaos that the universe must suffer. Do we continue to seed?
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2011
BS,
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2011
BS, speed of particles divided by distance = BS
Graeme
not rated yet Sep 05, 2011
Ejected rocks will soon cool and freeze up so that any life enclosed will be in a deep freeze. It should be able to last for a while until the ice all sublimes and it suffers from freezer burn.

TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Sep 07, 2011
Funny - this article appears today in the WSJ:

"But a few physicists weren't worrying about Al Gore in the 1990s. They were theorizing about another possible factor in climate change: charged subatomic particles from outer space, or "cosmic rays," whose atmospheric levels appear to rise and fall with the weakness or strength of solar winds that deflect them from the earth. These shifts might significantly impact the type and quantity of clouds covering the earth, providing a clue to one of the least-understood but most important questions about climate. Heavenly bodies might be driving long-term weather trends.

"In 1997 he decided that "the best way to settle it would be to use the CERN particle beam as an artificial source of cosmic rays and reconstruct an artificial atmosphere in the lab." He predicted to reporters at the time that, based on Mr. Svensmark's paper, the theory would "probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole" of 20th-century warming."
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Sep 07, 2011
Link for the above article:
http://online.wsj...news_wsj

-Hey dont shoot me I'm just the messenger.

-Hey I just realized I posted this in the wrong thread. Never mind.