The Search For Alien Life

Andrew Cahn

“Are we alone?” It’s a question asked by many for generations. Alien life is certainly possible, and more than likely out there somewhere, even if it’s too far away for us to see. But, there are some places that are prime candidates for alien life.

Artist’s depiction of exoplanet, “Trappist 1e”

In early 2017, a nearby star, Trappist 1, was discovered to have 7 planets all in the habitable zone of the star. Trappist 1 is a “red dwarf star”, a small, red and dim star about the size of Jupiter, but 80 times more massive. Around the star there are exoplanets Trappist 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 1f, 1g, and 1h. All orbit the star within a period of 20 days or less. Several of these planets have detectable atmospheres, which is promising for the possibility of aliens living there. The close proximity to the Sun (40 light years), allows scientists to study it more closely than other systems which are much further away.

Another candidate is a planet named Proxima b. It orbits the star Proxima Centauri, which is a red dwarf star in a triple star system. This system is the closest system to the sun and is only 4 light years away. Proxima b is the only known planet orbiting Proxima Centauri and is slightly bigger than Earth. Although it is in the habitable zone of its parent star, recently, scientists realized the violent nature of the young star which generates dangerous flares that blast any chance trace atmosphere away from the planet, thus, greatly lowering the chance of alien life there.

Alien life is most certainly out there, the odds are too high for there not to be, according to many scientists today. There will probably not be an answer to this great question in any of our lifetimes, but hoping that the answer will be solved is enough for many people around the world, and possibly, aliens looking for us on other worlds.