Humans may need to do more space exploration to search for extraterrestrial life because researchers have discovered that Omega Centauri has none.
Omega Centauri is a densely packed global star cluster that is estimated to have around 10 million stars. The chunk of stars is located 16,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.
Because of the cluster's colossal size, it has been a subject of observation for decades. The stars span a staggering 150 light-years away and weigh around 4 million Suns.
Because of how big it is, this has led many people to believe that the stellar body contains exoplanets in its "Goldilocks Zone," a region where another world is far enough from its star to have liquid water and life, just like Earth.
What Drove The Study
According to Stephen Kane, an associate professor of planetary astrophysics at the University of California, Riverside and lead author of the study, as the type of star cluster that exists across the universe, it is an intriguing area to look for habitability. Despite many stars that are concentrated on its core, the presence of exoplanets still remains unknown.
Because of this, Kane and his colleagues explored the cluster, hoping to find a place that would foster habitability. The team first looked at the age and temperature of around 500,000 stars sitting in the chunk's core.
The study revealed that the majority of the bodies has suitable conditions to contain planets in the habitable zone. Kane stated that the core of Omega Centauri could possibly have a plethora of planetary systems sitting close to a host star that harbors habitable planets.
One example of such a system is a miniature version of the Milky Way called the TRAPPIST-1. The said system sits 40 light-years away from Earth and is one of the most promising locations to find alien life.
The densely packed stars in Omega Centauri's core presumably means that the bodies would interact with its neighbors. The forces that are made from the encounter would be too much to endure any form of microbial life on the planets situated in its habitable zones.
Sarah Deveny, the co-author of the study, said that the frequency at which the stars gravitationally interact with each other would be too high to maintain stable planets that are fit for inhabitants.
The average distance at the star's cluster core is just 0.16 light-years, which makes it have a close pass once in a million years. This rate is a lot faster than the sun, which is located 4.22 light-years away from its nearest neighbor.
The study titled "Habitability in the Omega Centauri Cluster" will be published in The Astrophysical Journal and arXiv paper.