Harvard scientists say that black hole radiation can create life



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In the quest for alien life, scientists generally focus on the "Goldilocks zone," the region around a star where the temperature would be ideal for liquid water to exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.

But now a team at Harvard University is suggesting that there is another kind of Goldilocks zone we should consider in our quest for alien life – and instead of having a star in its center, it has a supermassive black hole.

Supermassive black holes are surrounded by swirling gas and dust called active galactic nuclei (AGN). These disks emit incredible amounts of radiation and light, and many researchers assume that this radiation would destroy the atmospheres of any nearby planets, creating a "dead zone" around the black hole.

But now, the researchers behind this new Harvard study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, are challenging this assumption.

"People have been talking mainly about the harmful effects [of black holes]"researcher Manasvi Lingam told Live Science. We wanted to re-examine how harmful [the radiation] is … and we wondered if there was any positive point. "

To do this, the researchers created computer models of AGNs. Using them, they were able to identify "galactic zones of Goldilocks" around black holes.

If positioned within this region, they write in their study, the atmosphere of a planet would remain intact, while the AGN radiation could break its molecules into life support compounds.

AGN light, however, could facilitate photosynthesis.

The team also revisited the alleged negative effects of AGN radiation on a nearby planet and concluded that they were greatly exaggerated.

Although previous studies suggested that the damaging effects of a black hole the size of Sagittarius A * in the Milky Way would remove the atmosphere of any Earth-like planet in 3,200 light-years, they think the damage would end at a distance of only 100. light-years.

"Looking at what we know about Earth, it suggests that perhaps the positive effects seem to be extended over a region greater than the negative effects," Lingam told Live Science. "That was definitely surprising."

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.

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