Scientists at NASA have announced the discovery of a group of seven earth-sized planets travelling round a star much darker than our Sun. The planets closely circle a dwarf star named Trappist-1, which at 39 light years away from Earth. This news has revived suggestions that earth may have a twin! Perhaps one of those planets might be so ‘earth-like’ that it supports life?
Only time, and further study, will answer that question.
Britain’s greatest war-time prime minister and one of the most celebrated orators of the 20th century, Sir Winston Churchill, was convinced that ‘aliens’ existed! According to an essay recently discovered in an American archive, Churchill believed that the Universe contained other “living, thinking, creatures”.
So far, nobody has proved that Churchill was either right or wrong. But the fact is that the odds against finding such forms of life are almost impossible.
What are the odds?
The sheer size of the Universe is beyond our comprehension. It’s so big that light needs 30,000 million years to cross it, travelling at 186,000 miles per second. Even at that tremendous speed the feeble light from Trappist-1 takes almost 40 years to reach us!
Stars are grouped together in what are called galaxies, with each galaxy containing 100,000 million stars. And there are probably 100,000 million galaxies!!
These numbers are so big we cannot really get our minds around the vast scale of the Universe. The sheer size of the Universe has caused some astronomers to think that some form of extra-terrestrial life must exist somewhere.
In 1995 two astronomers discovered a planet circling a star other than our Sun, changing our perception of the Universe forever.
In a book entitled “The Search for Earth’s Twin” published last year, the author Stuart Clark included this statement:
“After two decades of exploration, hundreds of planets have been discovered. Some are bathed in molten lava, or scoured by constant hurricanes; some have not one sun but two, and others are perpetually drowned in global oceans. But as well as strange, uninhabitable worlds, astronomers now know of planets just like Jupiter, Neptune, Mars and Mercury orbiting stars similar to our Sun. The prospect of discovering a planet like ours – the Earth’s own twin – is tantalisingly close.”
Perhaps that’s true. But true or not, two questions spring to mind:
- With so many stars in the Universe, why is it taking so long to find Earth’s twin?
- If Churchill was right about aliens existing, how does that affect me?
The ‘Goldilocks’ twin?
Although astronomers now have very powerful new tools to help them in their search, to be ‘Earth’s twin’ a planet must meet very stringent specifications.
One observer once described Earth as fitting the ‘Goldilocks specification’, that is not to hot or too cold, not too big or too small, not too close to its sun or too far away, not spinning too fast or too slowly. Many other criteria are essential for life to exist here, such as the existence of water and the tilt of the Earth’s axis as it travels around the Sun.
So far those criteria have only been found on Earth. If any criteria are missing, or there is even the slightest deviation from the ‘Goldilocks specification’, then life as we know it cannot exist.
Apart from being a fascinating discovery, finding out that there are aliens living somewhere in the Universe, on a planet like ours, will only prove that Churchill was right 50 years ahead of his time! It won’t increase the possibility of life coming into existence just by chance.
Nobody knows what opportunities God may have created for life to exist in remote parts of the Universe. But we do know about the future plans for ‘planet Earth’ which God has recorded in the Bible. Those plans certainly haven’t changed and never will.
Find out about those plans now and how they will soon affect you.