"Exomoons" - that is, moons orbiting planets outside of our own solar system - may hold the key to finding life outside of Earth, The Express is reporting.
For years now, scientists have been searching for so-called "exoplanets" - that is, planets outside of our solar system - in the belief that there may be intelligent life there. To date, several thousand have been found. Even more promising, many of them are in what astronomers call the "Goldilocks Zone" - that is, the planet's temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to support life.
The problem is that many of those exoplanets are gas giants, not unlike our solar system's Jupiter and Saturn. And of course, those are almost certainly inhospitable to life.
However, their rocky moons might be hospitable. And scientists have identified 121 exoplanets with potentially habitable moons.
Michelle Hill, an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Queensland, says that it's up to the scientific community to focus their attention on the known exomoons in their respective Goldilocks Zones.
"Now that we have created a database of the known giant planets in the habitable zone of their star, observations of the best candidates for hosting potential exomoons will be made to help refine the expected exomoon properties."Armed with this new information, the researchers who catalogued the exomoons hope that their findings will lead to better telescope design, which will hopefully enable better study of those exmoons to search for signs of life.
Not to be outdone by the potential for life outside of our own solar system, there may yet be life - intelligent or otherwise - within our solar system. Once thought unthinkable even two generations ago, the idea that there's life beyond the surly bonds of Earth is backed up by the knowledge that there may be liquid water on the moons within our own solar system - in particular on Jupiter's Titan and Saturn's Enceladus. That water is frozen, but there may very well be life underneath those icy crusts.
In fact, one physicist - Michio Kaku - thinks he's figured out what life on those moons may look like. As reported by the Inquisitr, Dr. Kaku suggests that, given that they live in an aquatic environment; that they'd need opposable appendages for grabbing things; and that they'd have to have brains evolved enough to communicate with others of their species in order to hunt. There's one critter on Earth that meets two of those three criteria (they haven't yet evolved the ability to communicate, as far as we know): octopuses.
In other words, if we ever determine that there's intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, it may very well come in the form of a moon-dwelling octopus-like creature.