Astronomers have discovered compelling evidence supporting the existence of life in unexpected regions of the universe. This breakthrough comes from the study of the bullet-cluster, a galactic cluster where dark matter (shown in blue) separated from hot gases (pink), providing valuable insights into the potential for extraterrestrial life.
Life has thrived on Earth for approximately 4 billion years, a significant period of the universe’s 13.77 billion-year history. This longevity suggests the existence of life in other parts of the cosmos. However, the definition of life is complex, with over 200 interpretations emphasizing its diverse nature. For research purposes, life encompasses anything subject to Darwinian evolution, including viruses that require hosts for propagation or pathogenic protein structures.
This broad definition enables the exploration of life’s origins, blurring the line between living and inanimate entities. The earliest traces of life can be traced back at least 3.7 billion years on Earth, with microorganisms utilizing DNA as a means of storing information and RNA for protein transcription, facilitating Darwinian evolution.
Scientists postulate that the first self-replicating molecules may have emerged over 4 billion years ago on Earth. Similar conditions potentially existed on Mars and Venus, implying the possibility of life emerging on these neighboring planets.
However, the sun was not the initial star, and life as we know it necessitates essential elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Except for hydrogen, all of these elements are synthesized within stellar cores. This provides evidence for the existence of life in the universe over 13 billion years ago, shortly after the formation of the first stars.
Studies propose that life could even be sustained by chemical elements. For instance, dark matter and dark energy, comprising approximately 95% of the universe’s energy, may harbor their own forms of life. Physicists also consider the possibility of complex structures arising in the immediate aftermath of a massive explosion, capable of self-production and evolution.