Why Aliens Have Yet To Be Found: Alien Life On Exoplanets Dies Young

There is likely a good reason why the Fermi Paradox — simply put: if alien life exists, where are they? — continues to hold sway over the question of whether or not human beings share the cosmos with alien life forms and, by extension, intelligent alien organisms.

Astronomical distances that must be traveled just to visit are to be considered, but there are other possibilities as well. Not knowing what to look for when searching for intelligent alien life on the exoplanets we’ve already detected is another. But likelihood being posited by a new study indicates that the lack of aliens being found or finding the Earth might have to do with the very real chance that the universe is a very tough place in which to sustain life. In short, alien life on exoplanets just might not flourish and just might die young.

The Conversation relayed recently the position of astronomers Aditya Chopra And Charley Lineweaver from Australian National University, where the duo, modeling habitable planets for not only producing emergent life, but also sustaining life and habitability on a world for an extended period of time, found that “the violence and instability of the early formation and evolution of rocky planets suggests that most aliens will be extinct fossil microbes.”

In short, Chopra and Lineweaver believe that life, even if life was quite plentiful in the universe (and all those billions of potential life-cradling exoplanets that just might populate the universe suggest that alien life could be quite prevalent), it just might be able to progress far without going extinct.


Life on Earth, the study’s authors posit, may have been fortuitous in its evolutionary rise, because it helped alter the Earth’s atmosphere and therefore prolonged its own sustainability.

Chopra and Lineweaver wrote, “The emergence of life’s ability to regulate initially non-biological feedback mechanisms (what we call “Gaian regulation”) could be the most significant factor responsible for life’s persistence on Earth.”

The seeming absence of evidence of alien life, where there seems to be mathematical evidence that there should be the opposite, “suggests that even if the emergence of life is easy, its persistence may be difficult.”

The scientists suggest that emergent alien life, to maintain sustainability, most likely has a role in keeping the home planet habitable.

“We hypothesise [sic] that even if life does emerge on a planet, it rarely evolves quickly enough to regulate greenhouse gases, and thereby keep surface temperatures compatible with liquid water and habitability.

“We should not expect technological or spacefaring civilisations [sic] because there is no evidence that biological evolution converges to human-like intelligence. And subjective philosophical notions of life in the universe should not inform our estimates of the probability of life beyond Earth.”

For all those setting hopes on a highly populated universe, the findings may be a bit disheartening. However, they need not be in that the findings could be incorrect or conditions for the emergence of life and the continued long road to intelligence may have been traveled by far more organisms than is yet known. Why? Because it is an untested hypothesis. Unfortunately, given the scale of the universe, testing could take a while to sway the final conclusions one way or another.

Still, despite their conclusions, Chopra and Lineweather are supportive of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, simply because “when we explore new regions of parameter space, we often find the unexpected.”


The Australian National University research is at the opposite end of the optimism spectrum with regards to life in the universe when compared with a study authored by the University of Rochester in New York’s Adam Frank and the University of Washington’s Woodruff Sullivan. That particular duo announced in early May, according to Space.com, that the probability that alien civilizations having risen in the universe was likely quite high. In fact, they posited that at least ten billion alien civilizations had prospered to one degree or another during the lifetime of the universe.

Still, the seeming lack of alien intelligence’s might be due to cosmic distances or the fact that we have arrived at our advanced state during a time when the universe might be without very many — or even one — other advanced alien civilization.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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