A science mash-up that will haunt your dreams
They’re out there. They’re alive. And we can’t see them.
According to space.com astronomers believe they have identified the first such rogue planet in a far-off solar system. But it has been theorized that there may be more rogue planets in the universe than main sequence stars like our sun.
Now, think about the extremophile species living in the harshest conditions on our own planet – in active volcanic craters and at the deepest depths of our oceans. The ocean-borne ones originate so deep down that they’ve evolved and live where sunlight can’t reach them. The chemical lovers often don’t need oxygen. They live on chemical energy, getting their heat gradient (a primary factor for life) from volcanic activity on/near Earth’s surface or from vents in the bottom of ocean trenches. It’s not sunlight that’s necessary for life – as we tend to think – simply energy.
Here’s where it goes from fascinating to terrifying. Let’s say for the sake of scaring the daylights out of ourselves that our Earth was slingshotted out of the sun’s orbit (it has happened elsewhere) and all solar-dependent life on the surface died off. There’s still enough energy in Earth’s hot core to support life in many forms. Any rogue planet could be carrying this kind of life.
And we wouldn’t see it coming. Why? Because the lights aren’t on and there’s no sun shining on it to make it show up – until it was close enough to the sun to glow. Don’t think that’s a problem? Ever seen Neptune? Me neither!
So, if you needed one more thing to keep you awake at night, congratulations. You now have rogue planets to add to the list.
Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.
3 benefits of dark, rogue planets teeming with strange life:
- The overexposure of their shallow lifeforms will give us hundreds of new reality TV shows.
- A non-disgusting alternative to Tofurkey.
- Like a good Mafia hitman, we’ll never see it coming.
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
- Weather Channel Explores Rogue Planet Doomsday Scenario (livescience.com)
- Astrophysicists watch black hole consume Jupiter-sized object (wired.co.uk)