Many of you who have been into Astrophysics since the very days of NASA have been awed by the Copernican principle that states that Earth’s existence is random and nothing more than a spec in the enormous expanse of the Universe. In Stephen Hawking’s words, “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies” has been widely accepted by the scientific community as opposed to the Earth-is-the-center-of-the-Universe concept indoctrinated by the Catholic Church for more than a thousand years. Although Bible doesn’t specifically point to the Earth being the center of everything, it has been interpreted by the clergy that Earth is the most important piece of the puzzle since Jesus himself lived here. Not only the Bible but other major religions of the World also speak of Earth’s importance, and they were given a heavy blow by the sheer science of Copernicus and Galileo who showed the Earth’s insignificance to the things around us. It drove many free thinkers and scientists away from the concept of religion altogether, and many became Atheists and Deists. Once we entered the Space Age, we got to know through Hubble telescope, radio telescopes and various other mathematical models of the Universe that there might be 700 million trillion or quintillion terrestrial planets in our known Universe and it further cemented the belief that Eath is nothing but a particle of sand in a huge desert. But, does it? Recent findings have revealed that the Earth and its perfect habitable location from a certain Star, is unique and it could be one of a kind. Now that is something as significant as the discovery of gravity waves in recent weeks as it will redefine how we see our planet in the galaxy.
Once we entered the Space Age, we got to know through Hubble telescope, radio telescopes and various other mathematical models of the Universe that there might be 700 million trillion or quintillion terrestrial planets in our known Universe and it further cemented the belief that Eath is nothing but a particle of sand in a huge desert. But, does it? Recent findings have revealed that the Earth and its perfect habitable location from a certain Star, is unique, and it could be one of a kind. Now that is something as significant as the discovery of gravity waves in recent weeks as it will redefine how we see our planet in the galaxy.
Swedish Astronomer Erik Zackrisson from Uppsala University used computer simulations to make a model of all the terrestrial planets in the Universe. Since there are more than 700 million trillion of them and, therefore, involving millions and millions of galaxies and solar systems, it might not be that accurate. Now what he did was create a miniaturize version of the Early Universe and how it looked like. He then inputted all the exoplanet data from advanced probes like Kepler and tried to find out what happened to all these planets. Now this number of planets means that at least a few thousands of them turned out like Earth, but they didn’t! Startling results received by the team indicated that Earth’s relatively young age and Unique position meant that its position was unique. The results were published at the preprint server arXiv and submitted to the AstroPhysics journal.
While there are a lot of uncertainties as we don’t know about a majority of these planets and their early conditions, the team concluded that the resolute Copernican principle had been mildly violated as not only Earth is one of the first habitable planets ever formed as the solar system formed early around 4.6 billion years ago, its position is one-of-a-kind as well. Only eight percent of the potentially habitable worlds had begun to form by then. Also, a vast majority of the planets we are looking at may not appear until our Sun eventually burns out and becomes a dwarf star after six billion years.
Even though new planets could statistically be born, the change will be even more gradual than ever before since nowadays the stars and the solar systems are being made very slowly as compared to the early Universe when Earth came into being. So, we are looking at planets who might take a lot of time and might not eventually make it at all. Also, since our planet will be long gone by then, the aliens won’t have a clue about us or how the Universe came into being as that long in the future will leave a lesser number of clues for them to figure.
So, as we marvel at the uniqueness of Earth and its ability to sustain life for more than 3.8 billion years (as confirmed in Jack Hills, Australia last year), we stand heretical to the very basic beliefs that modern Astronomy has taught us. We might claim about certain planet millions of light years away that may have signs of Life, but it is becoming increasingly unlikely that we will ever find it.
It doesn’t by any chance uphold what the clergy has been saying, as they have made up most of it themselves to highlight the importance of the Earth. But, it does seem eerie that Earth holds such a unique position in our galaxy and also the Universe by being the sole proprietor of life. However, the movements of Earth and its presence are still irrelevant in the huge realms of space around it. If life is ignored as a big factor, Earth is still a nothing more than a dust particle!